A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Paperback Book

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Paperback

Edited by Jeri Johnson

Part of the Oxford World's Classics series

4 out of 5 (1 rating)


'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 coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo ' So begins one of the most significant literary works of the twentieth century, and one of the most innovative. Its originality shocked contemporary readers on its publication in 1916 who found its treating of the minutiae of daily life indecorous, and its central character unappealing. Was it art or was it filth? The novel charts the intellectual, moral, and sexual development of Stephen Dedalus, from his childhood listening to his father's stories through his schooldays and adolescence to the brink of adulthood and independence, and his awakening as an artist. Growing up in a Catholic family in Dublin in the final years of the nineteenth century, Stephen's consciousness is forged by Irish history and politics, by Catholicism and culture, language and art. Stephen's story mirrors that of Joyce himself, and the novel is both startlingly realistic and brilliantly crafted. For this edition Jeri Johnson, editor of the acclaimed Ulysses 1922 text, has written an introduction and notes which together provide a comprehensive and illuminating appreciation of Joyce's artistry.

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I read this as a precursor to attacking Ulysses and was not sure what to expect. It was not a difficult read but it does demand your attention -it certainly wasn't the book I picked up when I was tired. It follows the development of a young Irish boy, Stephen (closely modelled on Joyce's own life) to adulthood.What I loved about it was Joyce's grasp of language, his use of his erudition and the sheer daring of some of its passages in dealing with its subject matter- particularly with respect to Catholicism and the political and religious tussles in Ireland at that time as well as the temptations that both test young Stephen and inform his choices.Each of the five chapters follows its own arc and I found that I felt quite differently about each of them. As Stephen ages, the complexity of the langauge and ideas evolve with him and by the final chapter, having been to hell and back, I was completely convinced by the mental development of Stephen and his mastery over his own conscience. If you are interested in originality, style and economy of words to convey a plethora of connections and ideas, then don't let it languish on the shelf any longer!

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