A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

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Some people find James Joyce’s novels more difficult to digest, yet they can provide the greatest window to the world of this luminous genius. This semi-autobiographical novel depicts the journey of an aspiring artist from childhood to his young years as he matures into the unknown arts.

Opposite to his later works, James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is written in a much simpler style. Still employing the stream of consciousness, this novel introduces us to Stephen Dedalus and follows his progression from adolescence through adulthood. Stephen discovers that if he wishes to pursue true art he will have to renounce the paradigms and fallacies of religion, society and bigotry that characterized 19th century Ireland. Perhaps the choosing of his name alludes to Daedalus who found that if he wished to fly in the sky like the birds he would have to renounce the earth-bound mentality of mortals.

We are witnessing the maturing of the artist’s sensibility as he goes from the Jesuit school and leaves to take flight just like the ancient hero. In the novel, we can clearly see James Joyce’s mark and perhaps his own struggles as a “young artist”. His writing style clearly tries to suit each period of time from the early adolescent years through the late teens as the artist evolves into something more. The style changes to reflect the changes in sensibility as well as perception of the protagonist regarding the world, religion, politics, society as well as trying to understand his own purpose and how to achieve it as an artist.

People intimidated of James Joyce’s perhaps dense writing style should certainly pick up A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, as this would offer them the chance to enter the world of this classic genius.



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