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A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Wordsworth Classics) [Paperback]

James Joyce , Dr Jacqueline Belanger , Dr Keith Carabine
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
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Book Description

5 May 1992 Wordsworth Classics
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man represents the transitional stage between the realism of Joyce's Dubliners and the symbolism of Ulysses, and is essential to the understanding of the later work. This novel is a highly autobiographical account of the adolescence of Stephen Dedalus, who reappears in Ulysses, and who comes to realize that before he can become a true artist, he must rid himself of the stultifying effects of the religion, politics and essential bigotry of his background in late 19th century Ireland.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Wordsworth Editions; New Ed edition (5 May 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1853260061
  • ISBN-13: 978-1853260063
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.4 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,468 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

The eldest of ten children, James Joyce was born in Dublin on the 2nd of February 1882. Despite his family being impoverished by his father's failings as a business man, Joyce was educated at the best Jesuit schools and later in 1898 at University College Dublin. His first published work was a review on Ibsen's play When We Awaken in the Fortnightly Review in 1900. Upon graduating, Joyce moved to Paris in pursuit of a medical career. Before long, he gave up attending lectures and devoted himself to literature. He returned to Dublin as a result of the fatal illness of his mother and shortly afterwards, in 1904, Joyce met Nora Barnacle who was later to become his wife. The young couple travelled to the continent and in 1905 settled in Trieste where they were to remain until 1915. Joyce's first book Chamber Music was published in 1907 as a book of poetry and Dubliners followed in 1914.

The Joyces had two children; Giorgio, born 1905 and Lucia in 1907. Lucia was to develop a disturbing mental illness which greatly affected the family and would remain a prominent factor for the rest of Jocye's life. During the First World War Joyce moved to Zurich where he remained until 1919 when he moved to Paris to work on what is widely understood as his greatest and most prodigious work, Ulysses. After being worked on for eight years, Ulysses was published in Paris in 1922 on Joyces Birthday. It could be true to say that in Ulysses, Joyce attempts to 'know' everything and to add to this 'knowledge' by creating his own language. Joyce's highly experimental and revolutionary work positioned him firmly as one of the key figures of modernism.

As spoken to Georges Borach, one of Joyce's students in Zurich, Joyce comments that 'there are indeed hardly more than a dozen themes in world literature. Then there is an enormous number of combinations of these themes.' He goes on to denounce all the thinkers of the last 200 years and to position Aristotle as the 'greatest thinker of all time.' Such statements are testimony to Joyce's determination in his quest for knowledge, to know what knowledge was and to challenge it. Joyce greatly admired authors such as Dante, D'Annunzio and Ibsen.

Joyce was greatly admired by many authors including Italo Svevo, author of Zeno's Conscience who he met in Trieste and, Samuel Beckett who he met in Paris.

Product Description


handsome new editions . . . . eminently readable with good, clear typefaces and text unencumbered by note numbers --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

A highly autobiographical tale of the growth of a young man's mind, and his striving for independence. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great account of the coming of age of a poet. 2 July 2009
"A Portrait of The Artist as a Young Man" was published in 1914, Joyce's first novel. Though the hero's name is given as Stephen Dedalus, to a great extent he is Joyce, and this is autobiography, chronicling approximately the first 20 years of Joyce's life.

Joyce is famous for the difficulties of his prose, but this applies primarily to "Ulysses" and "Finnegan's Wake." "Portrait" is a relatively easy read. The opening page is perhaps the most unorthodox and difficult of the whole book, as it is an attempt to represent the consciousness of the infant Stephen. Following this is a long account of Stephen at boarding school, under the tuition of the Jesuits. Stephen is a timid, sensitive boy, ill-suited to the harsh regime of the brothers or the rough-and-tumble interaction of his schoolmates.

The main preoccupation of the book is the spiritual and sexual angst of the adolescent and post-adolescent Stephen. Though as a young boy he is religiously-inclined, the awakening of his sexual instincts leads to a prolonged internal struggle. Stephen frequently seeks the company of members of the prostitute class, and then indulges in much tortured self-recrimination.

As a previous reviewer mentioned, the sermon Stephen hears at a school retreat is incredibly powerful and vivid- detailing the infinity of horrors that await all transgressors from God's law. If churchmen really were able to speak so powerfully it is little wonder that Ireland fell so obsequiously under the Church's thumb. But Stephen openly rebels against the sexual and philosophical repression of the Church when he becomes a college student; he renounces all the ideals of his native society and avows "to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race." In short, he becomes a poet.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
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
4.0 out of 5 stars A great use of language 2 Jan 2000
By A Customer
"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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The easy 'Ulysses'. 25 Jun 2011
This book is superbly well written. The wonderful language foreshadows the linguistic brilliance of 'Ulysses' and is nearly as enjoyable. From Stephen's private poetical musings to the description of hell to the everyday banter of Dublin, Joyce's command of English is breathtaking.
The book also has a more definite, concrete plot than its bigger brother, which makes the book more readable. Furthermore, Joyce fuses the language with the plot; when Stephen is young, the language is simple and evocative of children's thoughts, yet as he grows older , so too the language grows. This helps to make the book come alive for the reader.
There is very little wrong with this book, apart from Stephen's lengthy conversations during his university days which are, to be honest, a bit boring.
To conclude, Joyce preserves in these pages the overbearing influence of Catholic Ireland years ago, yet also provides an interesting and original semi-autobiographical account of his own youth.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars It's not for everyone
A friend suggested I read this and it wasn't for me. I found the book difficult to grasp, and despite it being quite short, I think it could have been a good 100 pages shorter. Read more
Published 2 months ago by A-NineOne
3.0 out of 5 stars Gift
This was a birthday gift to an aunt who reported that she enjoyed it. (Unable to comment further on this book)
Published 3 months ago by tess
1.0 out of 5 stars it's no more than OK on a rainy day
There are 2 schools of thought
1 James Joyce is oconic and wonderful
2 Joyce is rubbish
I started reading this so i could discuss it with my daughter who was... Read more
Published 3 months ago by P. A. Moncaster
5.0 out of 5 stars Immense.
I'm not really intelligent enough to review such a work but I'm evidence that the average moron can enjoy the work of one of the greatest writers ever, by the fact that you are... Read more
Published 4 months ago by an idiot in england
5.0 out of 5 stars Exemplary.
This is one of Naxos's finest recordings of any novel. Jim Norton reads with a sensitivity, intelligence and understanding of this complex text which comes only with long... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Enobarbus
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't be better.
terrific work br joyce, somewhat mirrors his early life and Norton's reading outstanding. Highly recommended to any James Joyce enthusiast,
Published 6 months ago by philip e. mcgovern
2.0 out of 5 stars Without a Plot or a Hope
James Joyce can write some stunningly good sentences, but too often he is needlessly wordy. He overwrites, because, as the character of Stephen Dedalus believes, there is a great... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Kublai
2.0 out of 5 stars Hard going
This is one of those books that needs lots of foot notes. If you enjoy reading a book like that where you have to keep referring to the notes every couple of sentences to help you... Read more
Published 16 months ago by misty
2.0 out of 5 stars Hard to get along with.
I'd obviously heard of Joyce before reading this book, though I hadn't read any of his major works. I had high expectations though, and I was thoroughly disappointed. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Millie
4.0 out of 5 stars Good
Came quickly and I enjoyed it, goes to show that human behaviour has not changed since it was written to now and well into the future.
Published 18 months ago by Jacinta Phillip
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