In his first and still most widely read novel, James Joyce makes a strange peace with the traditional narrative of a young man's self-discovery by respecting its substance while exploding its form, thereby inaugurating a literary revolution.
Published in 1916 when Joyce was already at work on Ulysses, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is exactly what its title says and much more. In an exuberantly inventive masterpiece of subjectivity, Joyce portrays his alter ego, Stephen Dedalus, growing up in Dublin and struggling through religious and sexual guilt toward an aesthetic awakening. In part a vivid picture of Joyce's own youthful evolution into one of the twentieth century's greatest writers, it is also a moment in the intellectual history of an age.
About the Author
James Joyce, the twentieth century's most influential novelist, was born in Dublin on February 2, 1882. The oldest of ten children, he grew up in a family that went from prosperity to penury because of his father's wastrel behavior. After receiving a rigorous Jesuit education, twenty-year-old Joyce renounced his Catholicism and left Dublin in 1902 to spend most of his life as a writer in exile in Paris, Trieste, Rome, and Zurich. On one trip back to Ireland, he fell in love with the now famous Nora Barnacle on June 16, the day he later chose as "Bloomsday" in his novel Ulysses. Nara was an uneducated Galway girl who became his lifelong companion an the mother of his two children. In debt and drinking heavily, Joyce lived for thirty-six years on the Continent, supporting himself first by teaching jobs, then trough the patronage of Mrs. Harold McCormick (Edith Rockerfeller) and the English feminist and editor Harriet Shaw Weaver. His writings include Chamber music (1907), Dubliners (1914), A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916), Exiles (1918), Ulysses (1922), Poems Penyeach (1927), Finnegans Wake (1939), and an early draft of A Portrait of a Young Man, Stephan Hero (1944). Ulysses required seven years to complete, and his masterpiece, Finnegans Wake, took seventeen. Both works revolutionized the form, structure, and content of the novel. Joyce died in Zurich in 1941.
“A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is in fact the gestation of a soul.” –Richard Ellmann
“One believes in Stephen Dedalus as one believes in few characters in fiction.” –H. G. Wells
“[Mr. Joyce is] concerned at all costs to reveal the flickerings of that innermost flame which flashes its myriad message through the brain, he disregards with complete courage whatever seems to him adventitious, though it be probability or coherence or any other of the handrails to which we cling for support when we set our imaginations free.” –Virginia Woolf
“[A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man will] remain a permanent part of English literature.” –Ezra Pound
With an Introduction by Richard Brown