A Portrait of the Artist As a young man by James Joyce

A Portrait of the Artist As a young man by James Joyce

Irish fiction

source – personal copy

I haven’t done a post for St Patrick’s day for a number of years and the fact I was born in Northern Ireland I often feel I should do. A rereading of Ulysses last year which I had wanted to post a review of on Bloomsday but hadn’t finished it quite in time so I was left with a feeling I need to read another book by Joyce this year. But Finnegans wake is my next task but I settled for a reread of this which I hadn’t read since I brought the edition I read in Germany in the early nineties. This is work came out of a longer work Stephens Hero which Joyce had written 25 of what’re going to be 63 chapters. Of which Joyce was working on but abandon and reworked part of it into the novel. It is partly based on Joyce’s own life growing up in Ireland in the late 1890s.

Stephen’s heart jumped suddenly.

-Dedalus, sir,

-Why are you not writing like the other?

-I..my..

He could not speak with fright

-why is he not writing, Father Arnall?

_He broke his glasses, said Father rmall, and I exmepted him from work

-Broke? What is this I hear? WHat is your name is! and the prefect of studies.

-Dedalus, sir

-Out her, Dedalu. Lazy little schemer. I see schemer in you face. Where did you break your glasses

-The cinder path sir

-Hoho! The cinder path ! cried the prefect of studies. I know thatr trick

Dedalus gets caught by a sadistic schoolmaster just for looking like a schemer.

We meet the Dedalus Family early on in the book Stephen’s father is a man of leisure but as it turns out later in the book his business interests are failing in Cork. As he spends Christmas with the family as this is the first time he is viewed as an adult he is at the table as they talk about Parnall the Old Nanny Dante has a ribbon in her Hair for Parnell then we view Stephens school years as a young man described by his family as Sunny Stephen he falls foul of his fellow pupils at times like when he is asked does he kiss his mother at night innocently replies yes then get the mick taken out of him. Then we see him fall foul of one of the sadistic schoolmasters only because his glasses had broken he is called a lazy boy. There is a sense of the church in the background like when he here’s a sermon on the evils of the world that scare him. we follow him to he leaves school roughly the time through to the time of Ulysess which is 4th June 1904 the day he meets his wife Nora Barnacle. Ulysses like Joyce himself we see Stephen decided that the religious shackles of Ireland of the time weighed to heavy on his shoulder and like Joyce did he aims to move away from Ireland.

-How long is it since your last confession, my child?

-A long time father.

-A month, my child?

-longer, father.

-Six months ?

-eight months,father

He had begun. The priest asked

-And what do you remember since that times?

He began to confess his sins: masses missed, prayers not said, lies.

-Anyuthing else, my child?

Sins of anger, envy of others gluttony, vanity, disobedence.

-Anything else, my child?

There was no help. He murmured:

-I .. commited the sins of impurity, father.

He goes to conefession after a long time not going the power of the church runs through the book.

 

Joyce was called by his family Sunny Jim this echos in the book where he calls Stephen sunny Stephen. We also glimpse the sexual awakening of the young Joyce from a girl up the road and the echoes to Mercedes in the count of mount Cristo we see this sexual awaken further in Ulysess the book has echoes to the late work which reflects on the older Stephen and his friends. Here we see the child become a man his life of books his defense of Bryon at one point even when a fellow pupil calls him the poet for the simple and a heretic this is a look of growing up in the Ireland of the time where the catholic church is all-powerful. There is also the aftermath of the death of Parnell a man who was a heroin Ireland although in the church’s eyes flawed because of his affair. He was pushing for Home rule which he had laid the groundwork for Stephen rallies against those powers this is echoes in his name as well Stephen is both the first Christian Martyr and the major park in Dublin is also called after him. The Dedalus is from greek myth which has echoes to the story this is something that also happens in Ulysess. I love this book it is a classic bildungsroman a boy becoming a man and as we see him grow the language he uses moves on. I must now face the summit of The Wake!  this is essential for all readers of Joyce it is the link from Dubliner to Ulysess and the first time he used modernist style writing. Have you read this book?

Happy St Patricks day !!

Winstons score A+ one for my cannon!

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Cathy746books
    Mar 17, 2021 @ 11:07:32

    Excellent post! I didn’t realise you were from NI too. Would you be happy for me to share this in my Reading Ireland Month round up this week?

    Reply

  2. Lisa Hill
    Mar 17, 2021 @ 12:12:10

    I have indeed read this one, Stu, and it was my very first Joyce.
    I’m reading another one from NI for Cathy’s Reading Ireland Month… It’s called Grace Notes and it’s by Bernard MacLaverty. Written much later than Portrait, when the Troubles were transforming the landscape.

    Reply

  3. Jane
    Mar 18, 2021 @ 15:59:19

    I read this a couple of years ago as an accompaniment to reading Ulysses and was shocked, inspired and delighted – a really fabulous book. Great review!

    Reply

  4. BookerTalk
    Mar 20, 2021 @ 16:59:47

    It’s decades since I read this – my first experience of James Joyce and I have to say that I didn’t really understand what was going on in the book. So I had to read it again just to make sense of it!

    Reply

  5. Trackback: That was the month that was March 2021 and Booker reaction | Winstonsdad's Blog

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