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A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Dover Thrift Editions)

3.9 out of 5 stars 384 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0486280509
ISBN-10: 0486280500
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Like much of James Joyce's work, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is a fictional re-creation of the Irish writer's own life and early environment. The experiences of the novel's young hero, Stephen Dedalus, unfold in astonishingly vivid scenes that seem freshly recalled from life and provide a powerful portrait of the coming of age of a young man of unusual intelligence, sensitivity, and character.
The interest of the novel is deepened by Joyce's telling portrayals of an Irish upbringing and schooling, the Catholic Church and its priesthood, Parnell and Irish politics, encounters with the conflicting roles of art and morality (problems that would follow Joyce throughout his life), sexual experimentation and its aftermath, and the decision to leave Ireland.
Rich in details that offer vital insights into Joyce's art, this masterpiece of semiautobiographical fiction remains essential reading in any program of study in modern literature.

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.
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Product Details

  • Series: Dover Thrift Editions
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications (May 20, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486280500
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486280509
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (384 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,129 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I'm always up for a good challenge, whether it be in books, music or movies, and from what I've heard Joyce is about as challenging as they come in the literary world. However, since it seemed like "Ulysses" or "Finnegan's Wake" would be a bit much to start with, I found myself reading "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" as an introduction to his work. And although I found this book about as easy to get into as Princeton, it was about as rewarding as well. "Portrait" is certainly anything but a light read. Joyce's meandering narrative and serpentine prose can be confusing to say the least, and on more than one occasion I had to read a sentence about five times in order to figure out what I had just read. For all its verbosity, though, "Portrait" is an essential read because the story of Stephen Dedalus carries so much resonance. I'm about the same age as Stephen was in this story, and I can relate pretty easily to his search for answers. Growing up in Ireland around the turn of the twentieth century, Stephen faces existential questions that should ring true for a young person coming from any culture at any time. He tries to find satisfaction by giving in to his lust, and when that doesn't work he goes all the way to the other end of the spectrum in seeking fulfillment through religious devotion. In the end, however, neither of these extremes provides Stephen with the answers he's looking for. Stephen's story demonstrates one unfortunate fact of life: when you're seeking meaning, there are no easy answers.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
If you're gonna buy a copy of "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man," you can't go wrong with the Wordsworth Classic edition. Its advantages are several:

1. It's extremely cheap.

2. It features a very long and immensely insightful (32-page) introduction by Jaqueline Belanger, which includes a biography, publishing background, sections on language structure, irony, etc. There are also many suggestions for further syntopic or critical reading.

3. The thing is complete and unabridged.

4. There are extensive footnotes at the end, which are keyed throughout in the text, explaining all the Latin and the extinct realia of Joyce's world.

In short, get it.

As for the work itself, it's a very good prepper for "Ulysses:" I started that novel without having done this one. Later I came back to this: much was made clearer. Don't make my mistake.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I've seen some reviews that criticize the book for being too stream of consciousness and others for not being s.o.c. enough. The fact is, for the most part it's not s.o.c. at all. (See the Chicago Manual of Style, 10.45-10.47 and note the example they give...Joyce knew how to write s.o.c.). A better word for A Portrait is impressionistic. Joyce is more concerned with giving the reader an impression of Stephen's experience than with emptying the contents of his head. What's confusing is the style mirrors the way Stephen interprets his experiences at the time, according to the level of his mental development.
When Stephen is a baby, you get only what comes in through the five senses. When he is a young boy, you get the experience refracted through a prism of many things: his illness (for those who've read Ulysses, here is the beginning of Stephen's hydrophobia - "How cold and slimy the water had been! A fellow had once seen a big rat jump into the scum."), his poor eyesight, the radically mixed signals he's been given about religion and politics (the Christmas meal), his unfair punishment, and maybe most important of all, his father's unusual expressions (growing up with phrases like, "There's more cunning in one of those warts on his bald head than in a pack of jack foxes" how could this kid become anything but a writer?)
It is crucial to understand that Stephen's experiences are being given a certain inflection in this way when you come to the middle of the book and the sermon. You have to remember that Stephen has been far from a good Catholic boy. Among other things, he's been visting the brothels! The sermon hits him with a special intensity, so much so that it changes his life forever. Before it he's completely absorbed in the physical: food, sex, etc.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you're going to buy 'A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man' as a paperback, I strongly advise you to buy this--the Norton Critical Edition. It's depressing to see that the Penguin Classics edition is the number one selling version of this wonderful book.

This book is TWO DOLLARS more than the Penguin version. For that $2 you get better quality paper, ink, and binding. More importantly you get Editorial notes that explain Joyce's obscure terms, ultimately making the book more readable. You also get over a dozen other writings dealing with Joyces text. These extras (200 pages worth) provide background information on Joyce's three major themes--Irish politics, Roman Catholicism, and "Aesthetic". Also, there are critical essays which range from general interpretations of the book to specified studies (ie feminist perspective). Being a difficult book, the supplemental material greatly enhanced my appreciation for 'Portrait'.

For ONE DOLLAR -LESS, you could go with this: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Dubliners (Barnes & Noble Classics). Here, not only do you get Portrait of the Artist_, but also you get the collection of short stories, Dubliners. Not to mention better editing. You still get footnotes. And there's some (not a lot) of suplimental material.

For FIVE DOLLARS more than you would spend on the Penguin book, you could get A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Everyman's Library (Cloth)). If you're going to buy a book, why not get one that will last the rest of your life? Well then, that would be the Everyman's Clothbound you seek.
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