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A Review Of "The Portrait Of An Artist As A Young Man", By James Joice. 778 Words

878 words - 4 pages

THE PORTRAIT OF AN ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN, by James JoyceConsidering the fact that the Portrait is a writing of a sort that the early reviewers had not encountered before it is understandable that Joyce was not praised by the critics while alive. Recognising the literary greatness of this novel seemed an almost impossible task at the time of its publishing. In a reader's report for the publisher Duckworth & Company, one of the reviewers called Garnett admits that the book is "ably written" but needs revision because it is too "discursive, formless, unrestrained, and ugly things, ugly words, are too prominent." The novel is too "unconventional," Garnett asserts, and "unless the author will ...view middle of the document...

Finally, the third part continues the story of his life bringing him to the edge of exile from Ireland.In outline and in many details the novel follows Joyce's life from birth to the age of twenty. His family and friends are easily recognised with only a change of name, while schools, streets, hotels, and public figures appear under their real names. However, notwithstanding the autobiographical elements, the Portrait tells not so much the story of Joyce's life, through the life of Stephen, but the development of his personality:The novel begins with Stephen's father telling him a fairy tale: "Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo...". In the first two chapters Stephen is only slightly individualised, whereas in the third chapter he begins to feel an unspecified, incomprehensible struggle within himself. He is emotionally flooded in ways he cannot understand, in ways that inconspicuously drift toward sexual differentiation. Consequently his conscience develops, shame floods his whole body suppressing these undesirable feelings. Stephen becomes cold, cruel, loveless, dead, lost, and barren, withdrawn from his social world. He seems motivated by unconscious processes and cannot realise it because the original feelings have been put by. Just...

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