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A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Penguin Popular Classics) Paperback – 25 Jan 2007


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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (25 Jan. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140622306
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140622300
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 1.1 x 18.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 588,549 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

James Joyce was born in Dublin in 1882, but exiled himself to Paris at twenty as a rebellion against his upbringing. He only returned to Ireland briefly from the Continent but Dublin was at heart of his greatest works, Ulysees and Finnegans Wake. He lived in poverty until the last ten years of his life and was plagued by near blindness and the grief of his daughter's insanity. He died in 1941.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By D. P. G. Bellinger on 9 Aug. 2006
Format: Paperback
Having read no Joyce before other than 'The Dubliners', which underwhelmed me slightly, I was not really expecting to enjoy 'Portrait...' madly. However, I was pleasantly surprised, and if it was a little hard going at times, the passages where Joyce really turns it on make 'Portrait' a decidedly worthwhile read.

The autobiographical novel consists of a number of disconnected episodes from the hero Stephen Dedalus' life, presented in chronological order. Though written in the third person, we are treated to an extremely personal account of Dedalus' late childhood, adolescence, and early manhood. He goes through several psychological phases as he comes to terms with the conflict between Catholicism and his own desires; as a young man myself (though not a Catholic), I certainly found a good deal to identify with.

Joyce's writing is strange. It is not obviously and consistently brilliant, as (for instance) Hemmingway or Fitzgerald. For pages, one feels a little bored as he describes grim Irish life with little attempt at entertainment or insight, but then suddenly he changes gear and nails you with something unsurpassably brilliant. As an example, I'll quote the last paragraph of chapter two - it's quite long, but should give you the idea.

"With a sudden movement she bowed his head and joined her lips to his and he read the meaning of her movements in her frank uplifted eyes. It was too much for him. He closed his eyes, surrendering himself to her, body and mind, conscious of nothing in the world but the dark pressure of her soflty parting lips. They pressed upon his brain as upon his lips as though they were the vehicle of a vague speech; and between them he felt an unknown and timid pressure, darker than the swoon of sin, softer than sound or odour.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 2 Jan. 2000
Format: Paperback
"Portrait of the Artist.." is perhaps one of the more accesable of James Joyces books, and also, for me one of the most enjoyable. The actual "story" of the book, is blataly autobiographical, concerning Stephen Dedalus/James Joyce's early life, at school - first encounters with women, and the enourmous inner conflict with Religion. The story is of little consequence really.. however, you've got to admire Joyce's honesty, if this truely is autobiographical. He has the irritating habit of trying to make Dedalus/Joyce seem somehow, superior, more intelligent than his peers, without actualy ever demonstrating this superiority at all. And, I'm afraid, I couldn't relate to the Religious conflict at all.. however it is an interesting insight. What does make this unique is the language, the "stream of conciousness" style, which at times, like at the end of the fourth chapter can be awesomely beautiful. It is this quality that makes Joyce worth reading. By his close observation and use of language he is sometimes able to completely transport the reader, intoxicate the reader. There is, however, an uneasy air which hangs over the works of James Joyce, and I can't quite put my finger on it...
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Uncle Moley on 24 Jun. 2007
Format: Paperback
I also really struggled with this book. It's very static. The subject and content overall is very limited and thus the reader's imagination is not stretched.

Certainly no page-turner, this book took me weeks on end of bite-sized sittings. Strangely, nothing enthused me about the book - however, like other reviewers, I was attracted to the emotional grasp and wonderful choice/usage of language/words in this challenging piece of work. Very much a work of art, full of bland narrative hiding behind some beautiful strokes of genius.

The autobiographical work draws attention to a young man growing up in Ireland - highlighting his struggles with his peers, Catholicism and worldly desires that lie within. This is a truly reflective book of a great artist as a boy, adolescent and man. It is very personal and expressive. A clear metamorphosis can be seen from childhood through to adulthood - almost from a caterpillar developing into a butterfly with the freedom of flight.

The last pages of this book spoke to me in a very personal and upfront way - that within the 'darkness' of everday life, an individual should have a free, clear and expressive mind to make his or her ambitions in life and not be governed by others.

Hit-and-miss, not everyone's cup of camomile.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 3 Sept. 2001
Format: Paperback
In this book James Joyce recounts his memories of childhood through to adulthood with an insight into the mind of an young, impressionable Catholic boy in Northern Ireland at a time of political unrest. Using the style of 'stream of consciousness' Joyce weighs up the effects religion and sex have on his life and relationships with others. The overall picture portrayed is that of an ironical, older Joyce looking back upon the follies and arrogance of the younger Joyce. Highly recommended!
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful By greenwise design on 1 April 2006
Format: Paperback
Strange, clever book. Strong themes, realism, relevance: turmoil of young men seeking their own truth and expression of freedoms. Pride. Perspectives, influences. Intellectual discussions heavy. A personal book.
Some brilliant insights and expressive language.
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7 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 9 Sept. 2001
Format: Paperback
This book immerses the reader in the life of Irish adolescent in a way that not only involves the reader but provokes him, excites him, amuses him and challenges him. Joyce was a writer of genius, he told tales were the narrative was the tale and narrated tales were the tale was the narrative. He expands the the novel form to give a complete experience, powerful, majestic, astonishing. This novel is not as good as Ulysses but this is no criticism: for Ulysses operates at at a different level of beauty. Read this and then Ulysses
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