Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Review of 'A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man' by James Joyce

Review of 'A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man' by James Joyce.

I warned you guys that I'd be reading a few more classics in the coming months, so here we are with a novel by Irish author James Joyce from the early part of the twentieth century. If you've been following my blog for quite a while (well over a year!), you'll know that I read and reviewed The Dubliners some time ago. This was one of the very first Modernist texts I ever read and quite frankly I was baffled. It took a hefty amount of googling and a cheeky peek at Sparknotes (aka the English student's bible) until I even had a vague idea of what was going on with it.

Thankfully, A Portrait wasn't quite as difficult to get into, although it did feel a little like wading through treacle at times. Despite having a partly Irish heritage, I've actually read hardly any Irish literature, apart from the reams of Seamus Heaney poetry that was forced upon me during my A-Levels. I really want to start broadening my horizons to this little island a bit more in the future, so hopefully you'll hear some more Irish authors popping up here and there on this blog!

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man follows the story of Stephen, a young Irish boy who begins to abandon the Catholic faith as he grows older. It is said that the book is greatly influenced by Joyce's own life as a boy and teen, which goes some way in explaining the title. Stephen grows physically, intellectually and spiritually as the novel progresses, and the reader gets to witness how these three aspects of his persona come together to form the almost-adult Stephen. As he grows, he begins to question the very things we see him preaching early on in the novel, until he eventually rejects Catholicism altogether. It is incredibly interesting from a historical/cultural point of view to witness a character do so, and I would definitely recommend reading it if you have an interest in Irish history.

Have you read it? What did you think?

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