About the BookJames Joyce was and remains unique among novelists for whatever he published was a masterpiece.
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is a key work of twentieth century literature that remains as fresh, challenging and relevant as the day it was first published.
It is an autobiographical novel and describes the early life and development of its central character, Stephen Dedalus (representing Joyce). Stephen, an intelligent but frail child, struggles towards maturity in Ireland at the turn of the century. His individuality is stifled by several levels of convention, dictated by the family Catholicism and Irish nationalism. He feels guilty of adolescent sexuality and this feeling is enhanced at a school ‘retreat’ where he listens to Father Arnall’s famous ‘hellfire’ sermon.
Stephen rejects the call to the priesthood and goes in for the wider and more rewarding world of literature, philosophy and aesthetics and rids himself from the stultifying effects of family, church and state.About the Author/sJames Joyce (Augustine Aloysius) 1882-1941, Irish novelist, short-story writer and poet, was born in Dublin on 2 February, 1882. He was the oldest of ten children in a family which, after brief prosperity, collapsed into poverty. In spite of poverty, he was educated at the best Jesuit schools and then at University College, Dublin, where he showed his exceptional talent. In 1902, after graduation, he went to Paris with the intention of attending medical school there. But he soon gave up attending lectures and spent his time in writing poems and prose sketches, and formulating an ‘aesthetic system’.
He returned to Dublin on his mother’s death in 1903 and in 1904 he met Nora Barnacle with whom he lived for the whole of his life and ultimately married in 1931. They had two children, a son and a daughter. They lived at Trieste and Zurich, and settled finally after the War in Paris. With the outbreak of the World War II the family returned to Switzerland where Joyce died on 13 January 1941.
Joyce’s first book, the poems of Chamber Music, was published in London in 1907, and Dubliners, a book of stories, in 1914. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man was published in 1916. It was followed by Exiles, a play, in 1918. Ulysses, published in 1922, brought him international fame. Finnegans Wake was published in 1939. The last two works were viewed by many writers and critics as modern masterpieces (notably by T.S. Eliot, Pound, Yeats, Hemingway and Arnold Bennett). Joyce’s influence on the development of modernism (especially stream of consciousness) is unchallenged.