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A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916)

by James Joyce

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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18,462183181 (3.7)1 / 584
"In 'A portrait of the artist as a young man, ' Joyce describes the early life of Stephen Dedalus: significant memories from infancy, schooldays, family life, his first taste of sin, guilt, repentance-- and his passage to freedom as he elects to leave Ireland forever. This is, in effect, an autobiography. Stephen is Joyce; every person he encounters and every incident he experiences, is drawn from life. The writing, though, displays the colour and imagination of the very finest fiction, in language which cries out to be read aloud"--Container.… (more)
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English (174)  Dutch (3)  Spanish (2)  Portuguese (1)  Swedish (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (182)
Showing 1-5 of 174 (next | show all)
coming of age in Ireland
  ritaer | Apr 23, 2021 |
This is pre-reading for Ulysses. Kind of interesting but not really a great work on its own as far as I recall. ( )
  dllh | Jan 6, 2021 |
Che si sia artisti o semplici uomini, per poter scoprir la propria strada ed esternar il proprio talento, occorre affrontare e superare un apprendistato che passa attraverso una profonda catarsi: attraverso la piena emancipazione da tutte le sovrastrutture mentali che educazione, scuola, chiesa e pregiudizi vari seguitano a impartire e che, spesso, lungi dal poter rappresentare un plausibile beneficio, conseguono il solo, involontario scopo di soffocare la nostra personale spiritualità. Il Dedalus (che fugge dai labirinti da lui stesso edificati, così come il personaggio del mito) narra proprio, in maniera romanzata e autobiografica, di questa sublime auto-liberazione. ( )
  Carlomascellani73 | Oct 30, 2020 |
It says something for this book that as I was re-reading it I kept feeling like I was, for instance, riding home on a Melbourne tram, or sitting at a university coffee shop: yes, I was obsessed with this book in my late teens and early twenties. Voila: the strength of the book, and its weakness.

In short, Joyce is groping toward stylistic tools that really only come into their own (if I remember correctly) in Ulysses--the deep embedding of characters' words in the narrative voice, the intense structuring of a book, and the willingness to vary form). All well and good, and certainly better than the standard 19th century stuff.

But young-I had no freaking idea that that was going on; what young-I responded to was the ideas, because the Young Man will respond to adolescent thoughts. Probably the only critical problem worth arguing about with this book is how seriously we're meant to take Daedalus's epiphanies (I cheat by using that word). The introduction to my Oxford World's Classics edition tries to avoid taking them too seriously. The book is in the third person, so "a small but significant space opens up between character and narrator... in maintaining this space Joyce avoids reinforcing those old humanist cliches of identity as wholly self-generated, of the individual existing independent of the strictures of history, culture and ideology."

Well, I disagree.* The book's structure, I think, points its reader to an understanding of Daedalus that is not in the least ironic. He claims that he shall try to "fly by those nets" of "nationality, language, religion," and almost every encounter in the book is tied in to one of those nets. At family gatherings, people discuss nationality and religion; at school, everything is tied in to language. Daedalus sloughs these responsibilities and duties one by one over the course of the novel--the structure, as I said, is very impressive--before finally declaring himself free of them. He "will not serve that in which I no longer believe whether it call itself my home, my fatherland or my church." And so on. He checks out a girl on the beach, and she is hot. Q. E. D.

In short, Joyce seems to have gone to a little too much trouble if flying by the nets is really a joke. It's not a joke, it's a standard teenage dream of absolute freedom, that I'm sure Joyce never gave up. The most gripping parts of PAYM appeal to our worst illusions.

But there are less gripping parts that make the book worthwhile. Another interesting structural point, for instance, ties in to Daedalus's somewhat Hegelian description of literature. It begins, he suggests, with the lyric, "the simplest verbal vesture of an instant emotion, a rhythmical cry... He who utters it is more conscious of the instant of emotion than of himself as feeling emotion." The next stage is the epic, "when the artist prolongs and broods upon himself as the centre of an epical event and this form progreses till the centre of emotional gravity is equidistant from the artist himself and from others." The final form, however, is the dramatic, "life purified in and reprojected from the human imagination."

PAYM starts with childish words spoken childishly, little more than a cry; as it develops, the artist broods (at exhausting length) on himself, but fails to gain distance from himself or others. According to Daedalus's own understanding, then, PAYM is underdeveloped. At the end of the book, he has only just managed to get to the point where he *might* be able to reproject life from his imagination; up till then, the book, and Daedalus himself, have languished at an inferior artistic stage.

And this, I think, is why one should read PAYM before Ulysses: it is the underdeveloped, self-obsessed, sincere version of the actual masterpiece. Even according to its own ideas, it isn't very good.

* And, because I'm feeling verbose, I'll give you two disagreements for the price of one. The problem is not one with 'humanist cliches,' which makes it sound as if the problem is Daedalus not understanding the strictures. The problem is that this understanding of individualism is itself a product of those strictures. I'd argue that (paraphrase of an apocryphal story) individualism would be a good thing, but it's going to take a lot of history before we can get there. Someone needs to cut off my word supply for a while. ( )
  stillatim | Oct 23, 2020 |
Joyce is such a wordsmith, He’s so able, at any point, to spring off with a bound and run with words in such a way that you really have to be on your toes with this one.

At first glance, you’re reading a simple autobiographical account. But woe-betide you if you settle too comfortably into that. Joyce won’t leave you where you find yourself.

Unless you are intensely focussed (and people settled comfortably usually aren’t), you will suddenly realise that you’re now in a completely different phase of writing. You may return to look for a transition, but you’ll spend a long time doing so. Joyce includes hardly any (I hesitate to say no, but it may just be no) transitions. If you’re looking for a new chapter to introduce you to a new scene or change of pace or change of style, forget it.

What Joyce is doing here is perfect for an autobiography because it reflects exactly what it’s like to be a person. We don’t remember episodes in our lives with perfect chapter headings and conclusions. Events flow out of and into (dare I say through?) one another. There are no hard edges in life.

We’re hard pressed to be able to relate exactly where, say, a divorce begins or ends. Anyone who thinks it ends with a decree absolute needs to try it and see. Even instantaneous events like a birth or a car crash are simply the results of a chain of events you can take back as far as you like and explore in as much detail as you like.

Joyce revels in detail no more delightedly than in the central section of the book which consists of a word-by-word account of a sermon. And it’s not just any sermon: worse than the ordinary miserable sermon is the miserable Irish sermon, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic sermon (with apologies to Frank McCourt).

The intellect reigns supreme here. Unless it can be understood, to be broken down and mastered by the mind, Joyce seemingly has no time for it. And although his intellect was so vastly greater than a whole bunch of us put together, it’s not hard to grasp why it is essential for him to reject a Being that is infinitely greater than his puny understanding.

The lengthy focus on a sermon is thus essential for Joyce. He’s a wordsmith, and it is therefore the words of the Catholic church with which he has to wrestle. Mysteries like the eucharist can be tossed aside as myth, but the teachings embodied in sermons must be challenged head on.

And so the child becomes a student becomes an undergraduate becomes a heretic in the continuous flow of life. Some might criticise the focus on faith, but for someone of that generation in Ireland, faith was a force that had to be reckoned with, not just passively possessed in the same way you inherit an old painting from your nan.

But having struck out on his own, leaving family, faith and fatherland, he was thus free, if not forced, to fashion his own world of words. And, boy, didn’t he do just that?

It’s important that we hear his lament for the mother tongue of Ireland. The fact that he has no choice but to lament in a language other than his ethnic tongue is a tragedy all on its own. But the irony of him becoming one of the greatest ever authors in English has a weight of pathos I don’t think I’ve ever grasped before. It struck me that perhaps what he did with English in later works such as Finnegans Wake were a reaction to having to work in a foreign tongue and thus proactively bending English against its will and to his own, subjecting the tongue of those who had for so long subjected his own ethnicity.

There are glimpses of the later glories in Portrait, and I can’t think of a better place to start with Joyce. I’m sure that’s exactly what he intended. ( )
1 vote arukiyomi | Aug 30, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 174 (next | show all)
"Øynene hennes hadde kalt på ham, og sjelen hans hadde sprunget henne i møte. Å leve, å feile, å falle, å seire, å gjenskape liv av liv! En vill engel hadde vist seg for ham, ungdommens og skjønnhetens - forgjengelighetens engel, et sendebud fra livets fagre hoff som var kommet for i et øyeblikk av ekstase å åpne for ham porten inn til all verdens synd og herlighet. Videre og videre ... "

Stephen Dedalus er et portrett av James Joyce som ung mann. Historien om Stephen Dedalus ble påbegynt i 1904, først påtenkt som novelle under tittelen Stephen Hero, etter hvert utviklet til en roman. Deler ble først trykt i tidsskrifter; hele boken utkom i USA i 1916, i England året etter.
added by kirstenlund | editwww.cappelendamm.no (Apr 19, 2004)

» Add other authors (125 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Joyce, Jamesprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alonso, DámasoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Anderson, Chester G.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Atherton, J.S.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Atterbom, EbbaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bindervoet, ErikTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brown, RichardIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Burgess, AnthonyIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Deane, SeamusContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ellmann, RichardEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Franken, GerardineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Henkes, Robbert-JanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jacques, RobinCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Keogh, BrianIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kerner, HughIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Knuth, LeoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lee, JohnNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Masterman, DodieIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Norton, JimNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Olofsson, TommyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pavese, CesareTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rathjen, FriedhelmTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reichert, KlausTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Skoumal, AloysTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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"Et ignotas animum dimittit in artes." ~ ovid, metamorphoses VIII, 188
Con deidica di Simone
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Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo....
Sometimes a fever gathered within him and led him to rove alone in the evening along the quiet avenue. The peace of the gardens and the kindly lights in the windows poured a tender influence into his restless heart. The noise of children at play annoyed him and their silly voices made him feel, even more keenly than he had felt at Clongowes, that he was different from others. He did not want to play. He wanted to meet in the real world the unsubstantial image which his soul so constantly beheld. He did not know where to seek it or how, but a premonition which led him on told him that this image would, without any overt act of his, encounter him. They would meet quietly as if they had known each other and had made their tryst, perhaps at one of the gates or in some more secret place. They would be alone, surrounded by darkness and silence: and in that moment of supreme tenderness he would be transfigured.
O! In the virgin womb of the imagination the word was made flesh. Gabriel the seraph had come to the virgin's chamber. An afterglow deepened within his spirit, whence the white flame had passed, deepening to a rose and ardent light.
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"In 'A portrait of the artist as a young man, ' Joyce describes the early life of Stephen Dedalus: significant memories from infancy, schooldays, family life, his first taste of sin, guilt, repentance-- and his passage to freedom as he elects to leave Ireland forever. This is, in effect, an autobiography. Stephen is Joyce; every person he encounters and every incident he experiences, is drawn from life. The writing, though, displays the colour and imagination of the very finest fiction, in language which cries out to be read aloud"--Container.

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Average: (3.7)
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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0142437344, 0141182660

Tantor Media

An edition of this book was published by Tantor Media.

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Urban Romantics

2 editions of this book were published by Urban Romantics.

Editions: 1907832394, 1907832408

Recorded Books

An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

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