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The Novels Of James Joyce Essay

1135 words - 5 pages

In comparison to many great and well-known authors and their renowned volumes of work, James Joyce wrote just three novels – A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. His collections of other work however, consisted of poetry, short story and series of epiphanies . Many individuals have analysed Joyce and written literary critiques and study-guides stemming from their interpretations of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, including Harvey Peter Suckmith – an Associate Professor of English at Dalhousie University, who has also focused on works such as Little Dorit by Charles Dickens and The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins . In beginning his analysis, Sucksmith states: “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man may not be Joyce’s greatest novel. It lacks, for example, the scale and scope of Ulysses or the mythopoeic and linguistic richness of Finnegans Wake. Yet it is Joyce’s most exquisite work of fiction, perhaps his most perfect novel, and it is certainly the one which communicates with us most readily. ” This popularity is clearly evident when reading about Joyce, as he his always associated with Ulysses or Finnegans Wake, rather than A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man .
Between 1914 and 1941, the reception surrounding Joyce’s work, has been said to pinpoint largely from himself due to his talent for working amidst expansive print culture, as well as being surrounded by an association of friends and acquaintance who were eager to promote his work . Although Ezra Pound – one of Joyce’s earliest critics and supporters when he was still relatively unknown – presented Joyce’s work in a simple-minded format, he portrayed Joyce as a ‘supranational, European writer, one devoted to a universal human experience, not a nation or national literature. ’ In the years after his death in 1941, Joyce’s reception shifted from mere amateur interest to ‘academic institutionalization’ . Despite no longer having the capability of influencing the reception of his work, he inadvertently influenced Harry Levin – an American professor of Comparative Literature – to become the first writer of critical introduction to Joyce’s works, due to a letter of gratification he sent in regards to an article Levin produced on Finnegans Wake . From this James Joyce: A Critical Introduction was successfully published in 1941 as part of ‘The Makers of Modern Literature Series’ .
A common theme throughout most analyses of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is their references to the text as an auto-biographical piece. As Sucksmith implies, the title alone suggests a character study, in which biographical subject-matter is surely evident to aid the development of Stephen through infancy to early manhood . However, along with Clive Hart, both believe readers should be wary in classing it as an autobiographical text, as Stephen Hero – Joyce’s original experimentation with autobiography – ‘was discarded as too crude, too direct and too full...

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