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A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man on the About network:
When at the beginning of this text, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce, I found it difficult to follow young Stephen's meandering thoughts with any semblance of comprehension until I finished reading the novel.
Orthodox critical opinion now conjectures that apparent similarities between characters portrayed and real people reflect the artist's practice of casting known individuals as templates for certain "types" of humanity and human folly.
Factual information on A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man:
Riquelme, J P. (1990) Stephen Hero and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: transforming the nightmare of history. In Attridge, D. (ed.), The cambridge companion to James Joyce. UK: Cambridge university press. 103-121.
In A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, the reader follows Stephen as he develops from a young child into a young artist, overcoming many conflicts both internally and externally, and narrowly escaping a life long commitment to the clergy.
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man's works in libraries:
Like other reviewers, the 's essayist found in Stephen "a passion forfoul-smellingthings" (93), confusing Joyce's unusual technique of documenting odors and textures with hisprotagonist's tastes. Irish reviewers were, if anything, more offended than British ones. The claims that "Mr. Joyce plunges and drags his readers after him into theslime offoul sewers" (98). These critics' stress on 's unpleasantness is likely to besomewhatbaffling to a modern reader until we realize that the "impropriety" found on the book's "very firstpage" (89) can only be the reference to bed-wetting; at this point we understand what a large partof human existence in 1916 was held to be inappropriate for mention in literature. One theme notpicked up in later criticism is the concern over whether Stephen and his companions arerepresentative of Irish youth in their ideas. Wells noted that "every human being" in the book"accepts as a matter of course. . . that the English are to be hated," and adds that he thinks thatpicture is "only too true" (88). The on the other hand protested that"Englishcritics, with a complacency that makes one despair of their intelligence, are already hailing theauthor as a typical Irishman, and his book as a faithful picture of Irish life." It would be just asaccurate to see De Quincey's Opium-Eater as a typical picture of British youth, the reviewerasserts (99).
Still, Joyce's technique was so convincing that the reviewers had to admit that somethingbeyond conventional realism was at work. A. Clutton-Brock said that "[Joyce] can makeanything happen that he chooses" in his writing, and that "No living writer is better atconversations" (89). J.C. Squire agreed that the dialogue "is as close to the dialogue of life asanything I have ever come across" (101). Virtually all reviewers praised the writing, and somewere swept away despite themselves, protesting all the while. The 'swriterbegins, "When one recognizes genius in a book one can perhaps best leave criticism alone," andthen goes on to give his reservations. Interestingly, he continues, "Not for its apparentformlessness should the book be condemned. A subtle sense of art has worked amidst the chaos,making this hither-and-thither record of a young mind and soul. . . a complete and ordered thing"(92). In noting this he is unusual, for nearly all the early reviewers complained of the book'sformlessness, its abrupt transitions, its lack of plot, and its unusual demands upon the reader. Justas the term "naturalism" was used to evoke the "gutter-realism" of the notorious Emile Zola, theterm "impressionism" occurred frequently to suggest an aesthetic combination of shapelessnessand sensitivity in both protagonist and book.
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Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Essays | GradeSaver
So well established is as a modern classic that it is difficult to imagine thesituationof the book's early reviewers, faced with writing of a sort they had not encountered before. Spotting literary greatness is an almost impossible task on its first appearance; Ezra Pound did itwith Joyce, and so did T.S. Eliot, but even as perceptive a reader as Edward Garnett, who hadencouraged Joseph Conrad, Ford Madox Ford, and D.H. Lawrence, balked at Joyce. In a reader'sreport for the publisher Duckworth & Company, collected with many other early reviews inRobert Deming's two-volume James Joyce: The Critical Heritage, Garnett admits the book is"ably written" but needs revision because it is too "discursive, formless, unrestrained, and uglythings, ugly words, are too prominent." The novel is too "unconventional," Garnett asserts, and"unless the author will use restraint and proportion he will not gain readers" (81). Given this sortof misjudgment by a usually sensitive reader, it is all the more surprising that so many of the initialreviews of hailed it as a major achievement, even a work of "genius." Ezra Pound's review in , where the book had appeared in installments,stressedthat it was well written--and tried to suggest just how rare that was among novels in English. Indeed, "Joyce produces the nearest thing to Flaubertian prose that we now have in English." Aside from that, "I doubt if a comparison of Mr. Joyce to other English writers or Irish writerswould help much to define him." Pound stresses Joyce's realism and the book's value as"diagnosis," but otherwise says virtually nothing about the novel's content (83). Others weremore struck by what they saw as the book's unpleasantness. A review in entitled "AStudy in Garbage" called it "an astonishingly powerful and extraordinary dirty study of theupbringing of a young man by Jesuits" and suggested that at the end of the book Stephen goesmad (85). Similarly, H. G. Wells in a rather awe-struck essay comparing Joyce to Swift, Sterne,and Conrad, nevertheless complained about Joyce's "cloacal obsession" (86-88). Theprotested the "occasional improprieties"; the complained of "the brutalprobing ofthe depths of uncleanness" and the of the novel's "astounding badmanners"(89,92, 93).
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
The central theme of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is Stephen Dedalus' alienation and separation from his trinity of family, country and religion....
Criticism Perspectives of Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, ..
Oddly enough, in James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, this is the case even though the story is set in Ireland around the time before the Independence in 1922.
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