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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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19,263189187 (3.7)1 / 595
"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 (179)  Dutch (3)  Spanish (2)  Portuguese (1)  Swedish (1)  Italian (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (188)
Showing 1-5 of 179 (next | show all)
This is most likely the worst book I have ever had the misfortune to read. A disjointed plot, often interrupted by disjointed thoughts from an apparently disjointed mind. The Latin that was interspersed throughout was likely the best part of the book (but I wouldn‘t know as I wasn‘t interested enough to translate online). I‘m glad this is over. ( )
  282Mikado | May 12, 2022 |
I'll tell the truth: Not all of this novel is exciting stuff. A lot of it is stream-of-consciousness writing that seems to meander about before getting to any kind of a point.

But that's intentional. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is a semi-autobiographical tale of a young Irish writer from his childhood to his early adult years in the early 20th century. This young man is working out his own belief system, his own philosophy and thoughts about religion and artistry, and rarely does such a thought process occur directly and expediently.

Thus, the rambling text.

But that's not to say there's nothing of import to be found here. If nothing else, this short novel shows the budding work of James Joyce as he builds his writing strengths and style that will eventually become more apparent in his longer, better knows works, Ulysses and Finnegan's Wake. ( )
  064 | Apr 3, 2022 |
James Joyce was born in 1882 and died in 1941. His novel Ulysses is heralded as a hallmark of the early twentieth century Modernist style. It’s also hailed as barely readable. You see, Joyce, unlike many writers of his time, is still being read even now, and views on his books are still being debated with intensity. Eighty years after his death Joyce still has a following - still has “fanboys” - and that alone tells you much about what he was able to achieve.

I freely admit I am not a Joyce fanboy. A Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man is my introduction to Joyce. For others who aren’t familiar with him and his works, Portrait is an often recommended starting point.

My initial reaction as I started reading this book was that it’s a museum piece. Written in a ten year span from 1904 to 1914, it’s very much a product of its time and place. That’s understandable, as it’s a semi-autobiographical account of the young life of the author.

To best experience it, you’ll benefit if you have something of an understanding of the 20th century history of the Irish, their struggle with the British, and their relationship to the Roman Catholic church. There’s also plenty of Irish slang and many passages in Latin in the book that you may need a guide (or several Google searches) to get through.

Portrait is Modernist in the sense that it's written to let us directly into the head of protagonist, Stephen Dedalus. Parts of it are written as stream of consciousness and can be hard to parse. It's also very cinematic in that it's not a straightforward narrative but rather a sequence of scenes through five chapters, each corresponding to five ages in young Stephen’s life.

Interestingly, the style of each chapter changes to reflect Stephen’s age at the time. In the first chapter for example Stephen is very young. He hides under a table at a family gathering. He wets the bed. This chapter is written from the perspective of a child, about the things that a child will see and feel. And so on through each chapter.

The book is a coming-of-age story. It tells how Stephen struggles with religion, his growing awareness of the politics of his time and the misfortunes falling on his family, his typical teenage angst around sex and desire, and finally his struggle to articulate his feelings about art and his desire to pursue an artistic life even though his family may not approve.

There are brilliant passages of prose in the book. The best for me was in Chapter III, where there are several pages of an over the top hellfire and damnation sermon that Stephen hears at a boys retreat in his school. The sermon is so seriously taken by Stephen that he turns into a model Catholic (a model he can’t hold on to for too long). For me, an American reader in 2022, the sermon is simultaneously both hilariously unreal, and also far too serious and realistic to not be based on the writer’s own experiences. I have to believe that young Joyce was subject to sermons just like this.

After finishing the book and reflecting on it, I have come to feel that, for a museum piece full of old slang and Latin, it’s actually quite effective. I can’t say that I loved it, but I liked it quite a lot.

It doesn’t feel right to me to put Star ratings on classics like this. I do recommend this book, but it is best suited for people who 1) like coming of age stories, 2) are of Irish descent and/or have an interest in Irish history, 3) don’t mind getting a guide or running to Google to translate stuff as they read, and 4) like me, are new to James Joyce.
  stevesbookstuff | Mar 4, 2022 |
The poetic Joyce is never so clearly shown as IT is in this work, all the sentences are just woven together by rhythm and form. This is is the reason why I recommend it as a first read of a work by Joyce. however, the very basics of this book are quite fragile. Literature is about form but in the first place, it is about a story. And the most fundamental part of a story are its characters. That is the short-coming of this book, and the reason why it isnt as transcendental as Dubliners or Ulysses. Stephen is just an arrogant prick. It's true. he disrespects his family, his country and his peers but still he is dependent of them. The lack of other themes than Dedalus' becoming of an artist and the endless self-love by Joyce drag this work down. Dont get me wrong, it is still a very good read, but is misses a deeper feeling, which was present in Joyce's other works. ( )
  Boreque | Feb 7, 2022 |
It took me forever to read this not-so-long book. It sat on my shelf for years, and when I did finally pick it up to read, it took me a while to work my way through its five chapters. Inspired to read it by enthusiastic comments on its merits by Joseph Campbell, I just never got into it. I much preferred Dubliners to this book. As a piece of literature, I can see the merits of Portrait and did enjoy several parts, but on the whole it was just okay. ( )
  stevepilsner | Jan 3, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 179 (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
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
First words
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 unsubstantiated 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.
The verses passed from his mind to his lips and, murmuring them over, he felt the rhythmic movement of a villanelle pass through them. The roselike glow sent forth its rays of rhyme; ways, days, blaze, praise, raise. Its rays burned up the world, consumed the hearts of men and angels: the rays from the rose that was her wilful heart. /
Your eyes have set man’s heart ablaze
And you have had your will of him.
Are you not weary of ardent ways?
And then? The rhythm died away, ceased, began again to move and beat. And then? Smoke, incense ascending from the altar of the world. /
Above the flame the smoke of praise
Goes up from ocean rim to rim
Tell no more of enchanted days.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

"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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Legacy Library: James Joyce

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Average: (3.7)
0.5 24
1 121
1.5 27
2 257
2.5 52
3 703
3.5 139
4 1055
4.5 141
5 811

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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