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A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Twentieth-Century Classics) Revised Edition

3.9 out of 5 stars 417 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0140186833
ISBN-10: 0140186832
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Editorial Reviews

Review

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is in fact the gestation of a soul.” –Richard Ellmann

“One believes in Stephen Dedalus as one believes in few characters in fiction.” –H. G. Wells

“[Mr. Joyce is] concerned at all costs to reveal the flickerings of that innermost flame which flashes its myriad message through the brain, he disregards with complete courage whatever seems to him adventitious, though it be probability or coherence or any other of the handrails to which we cling for support when we set our imaginations free.” –Virginia Woolf

“[A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man will] remain a permanent part of English literature.” –Ezra Pound

With an Introduction by Richard Brown --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

James Joyce was one of innovators of postmodernism. He is widely considered one of the most important writers of the 20th century. Born in Dublin, James Joyce (1882 1941) was a modernist and proponent of the stream-of-consciousness writing style and is widely considered one of the most important writers of the twentieth century. His works feature primarily Dublin figures such as in the short story collectionDubliners(1914), and the novelsA Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man(1916), Ulysses(1922) andFinnegan's Wake(1939). --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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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: 5.3 x 0.8 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (417 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #109,933 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: 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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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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