Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Joyce, James "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man"



Joyce, James "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" - 1916

The story of a young man trying to find himself, a story about James Joyce himself, his character Stephen Dedalus is partly autobiographical. Stephen comes from a poor Irish family who goes to a religious boarding school which he has to leave for financial reasons. He then enters another religious school where they try to convince him to become a priest. This question is very important to the author and he tries to imagine himself as a priest. But he decides that life as it is is far more interesting for him and that he wants to live it in freedom. Between all this, he goes from all sorts of religious and social questions to the meaning of life and his first attempts of becoming a writer.

The book itself is highly philosophical and one could write a whole new book about Stephen Dedalus ... well, James Joyce did. "Ulysses" was first intended to be just a short story for the collection "Dubliners" but then was written as a sequel to "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man".


From the back cover: "Published in 1916, James Joyce's semiautobiographical tale of his alter ego, Stephen Dedalus, is a coming-of-age story like no other. A bold, innovative experiment with both language and structure, the work has exerted a lasting influence on the contemporary novel.
'Joyce dissolved mechanism in literature as effectively as Einstein destroyed it in physics,' wrote Alfred Kazin. 'He showed that the material of fiction could rest upon as tense a distribution and as delicate a balance of its parts as any poem. Joyce's passion for form, in fact, is the secret of his progress as a novelist. He sought to bring the largest possible quantity of human life under the discipline of the observing mind, and the mark of his success is that he gave an epic form to what remains invisible to most novelists.... Joyce means many things to different people; for me his importance has always been primarily a moral one. He was, perhaps, the last man in Europe who wrote as if art were worth a human life.... By living for his art he may yet have given others a belief in art worth living for."

6 comments:

  1. Oh, I simply adored A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, when I read it for the first time a couple of years ago! It encouraged me to read other works by James Joyce although I never ventured at Ullysses or Finnegan's Wake yet. I only read (and reviewed) Dubliners so far and those short stories are just gorgeous - I particularly remember a half-sentence from Eveline whenever it's time for spring cleaning: 'where does all the dust come from'.
    Thanks for reminding me of the qualities of James Joyce with your review!
    LaGraziana @ Edith's Miscellany

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    1. Thank you so much for that comment, Edith, I really like your blog and what you write and don't always find time to comment, even though I would love to say something to every single one of them, whether I read the book or not.

      I am really happy that I reminded you of a great read, I find especially the "hard" ones are often more worth our time than anything else. And so, yes, "Ulysses" is quite a tough one but I'm glad I made my way through it even though I have to admit it was quite a struggle at times.

      Not so this one, a lot easier to read and get through but with the same deep meaning in it. And I do love the quote you mentioned, I never know that either. ;)

      Anyway, lovely talking to you and I'm sure we will cross paths again soon.

      Happy Reading,
      Marianne

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    2. Oh, I know so well what you mean! I don't often find the time to comment either - or not as often as I would wish to.

      Ulysses definitely is on my TBR list, but with time flying and a review "being due" every Friday it's not easy to find the time for something so monumental and demanding...

      LaGraziana @ Edith's Miscellany

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    3. I know all about the "being due" point but I've given up on always fulfilling the tasks I set myself.

      And "Ulysses" is monumental, both in the task of getting through it as well as what you get out of it. You really have to be ready for it in your life. One day you will have that opportunity, I am sure.

      Have a great week,
      Marianne

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  2. I read Portrait of the Artist many many years ago. Probably in my late teens or early 20s. I remember it making quite an impact on me. I think I will put it on my reread list!

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    1. That is nice. I'm glad you said it made an impact because that is exactly what I think this book can do to you.I think our reading taste is quite similar, although I might have said that earlier. LOL.

      Have a nice weekend,
      Marianne

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