Synopses & Reviews
Like much of James Joyce's work, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is a fictional re-creation of the Irish writer's own life and early environment. The experiences of the novel's young hero, Stephen Dedalus, unfold in astonishingly vivid scenes that seem freshly recalled from life and provide a powerful portrait of the coming of age of a young man of unusual intelligence, sensitivity, and character.
The interest of the novel is deepened by Joyce's telling portrayals of an Irish upbringing and schooling, the Catholic Church and its priesthood, Parnell and Irish politics, encounters with the conflicting roles of art and morality (problems that would follow Joyce throughout his life), sexual experimentation and its aftermath, and the decision to leave Ireland.
Rich in details that offer vital insights into Joyce's art, this masterpiece of semiautobiographical fiction remains essential reading in any program of study in modern literature.
"An eminent novelist was asked recently by some troublesome newspaper what he thought
of the literature of 1916. He answered publicly and loudly that he had heard of
no literature in 1916; for his own part he had been reading "science." This was
kind neither to our literary nor our scientific activities. It was not intelligent
to make an opposition between literature and science. It is no more legitimate
than an opposition between literature and "classics" or between literature and
history. Good writing about the actualities of the war too has been abundant,
that was only to be expected; it is an ungracious thing in the home critic to
sit at a confused feast and bewail its poverty when he ought to be sorting out
his discoveries. Criticism may analyze, it may appraise and attack, but when it
comes to the mere grumbling of veterans no longer capable of novel perceptions,
away with it! There is indeed small justification..." H.G. Wells, The New Republic, 1916
(read The New Republic's entire review
Masterpiece of semi-autobiographical fiction reveals a powerful portrait of the coming of age of a young man of unusual intelligence, sensitivity, and character. Telling portrayals of an Irish upbringing and schooling, the Catholic Church and its priesthood, Parnell and Irish politics, sexual experimentation and its aftermath, and problems with art and morality.
Joyce's semi-autobiographical chronicle of Stephen Dedalus' passage from university student to "independent" artist is at once a richly detailed, amusing, and moving coming-of-age story, a tour de force of style and technique, and a profound examination of the Irish psyche and society.
A fictional re-creation of Joyce's early life, this novel is a powerful portrait of the coming of age of a young man of unusual intelligence, sensitivity, and character.