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A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Twentieth-Century Classics) [Paperback]

by James Joyce, Seamus Deane
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (316 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 1, 1993 0140186832 978-0140186833 Revised
Perhaps Joyce's most personal work, "A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man" depicts the intellectual awakening of one of literature's most memorable young heroes, Stephen Dedalus. Through a series of brilliant epiphanies that parallel the development of his own aesthetic consciousness, Joyce evokes Stephen's youth, from his impressionable years as the youngest student at the Clongowed Wood school to the deep religious conflict he experiences at a day school in Dublin, and finally to his college studies where he challenges the conventions of his upbringing and his understanding of faith and intellectual freedom. James Joyce's highly autobiographical novel was first published in the United States in 1916 to immediate acclaim. Ezra Pound accurately predicted that Joyce's book would "remain a permanent part of English literature, " while H.G. Wells dubbed it "by far the most important living and convincing picture that exists of an Irish Catholic upbringing."

A remarkably rich study of a developing young mind, "A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man" made an indelible mark on literature and confirmed Joyce's reputation as one of the world's greatest and lasting writers.

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Editorial Reviews


“Joyce’s work is not about the thing—it is the thing itself.”—Samuel Beckett

“Admirable.”—Jorge Luis Borges


“Joyce’s work is not about the thing—it is the thing itself.”—Samuel Beckett
“Admirable.”—Jorge Luis Borges
--This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

From the Publisher

7 1.5-hour cassettes --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

Product Details

  • Series: Twentieth-Century Classics
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Revised edition (June 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140186832
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140186833
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (316 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,306,598 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
223 of 238 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A tough read, but more than worth it February 15, 2003
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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142 of 151 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the edition to get April 29, 2005
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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105 of 112 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not easy but well worth the effort June 13, 2000
By A Customer
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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47 of 50 people found the following review helpful
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read
Every college and communication student should read this book. It is a pretty good piece of literature and everybody will enjoy it
Published 11 days ago by Arturo Uzcategui
4.0 out of 5 stars Hated the book, great seller
The book was not something I wanted to read since the class I was in was nothing but Irish lit, boo.
Published 1 month ago by Shane
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome
This must be the most boring book I've ever read!!!
You should not get this insanely boring book. You're welcome
Published 1 month ago by Austin Palov
5.0 out of 5 stars Some of the best writing ever.
I've never been so astonished with a writer's style. I've always known OF James Joyce, but I never fully appreciated his work until this book. A must read.
Published 2 months ago by Anthony
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book
Although I only read the book for my english literature class, I was honestly surprised that I enjoyed it. Totally recommend it!
Published 2 months ago by Itzel
5.0 out of 5 stars Intro to Ulysses
This is Joyce's easiest novel to read and a preview to Ulysses. Find out who Steven was before Ulysses and get some insights to Joyce himself.
Published 3 months ago by Geoffrey Cooke
5.0 out of 5 stars gifted
this was one of two books gifted to a friend to read to his friend in a nursing home. He learned quiet a bit from this book and she enjoyed the reading.
Published 3 months ago by charlene pray
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent one of the best
This is a brilliant book, vivid, detailed descriptions full of metaphors. It's real piece of great literature. Not easy to understand but very worthwhile making the effort
Published 4 months ago by leongork
5.0 out of 5 stars Read This Book Before You Try Jumping Into Ulysses
This book changed my life when I read it in college. James Joyce is second only to Shakespeare in what he does with language.
"Portrait" is his most accessible novel.
Published 5 months ago by A-Ron
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Condition
The story itself is was expertly written but I sometimes found myself having trouble maintaining interest. However let this not discredit the value of the great classic. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Avery Broussard
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What a scam
I guess there is a difference between 1st Ed. and 1st run. This is obviously not a first run. Still, the fact that was published in the Egoist may count as a first Ed, so this will count as a new run of the second edition.

There is no denying they are trying to sell more books using... Read more
Jan 29, 2010 by Amazon Customer |  See all 5 posts
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