Playful and experimental, James Joyce’s autobiographical A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is a vivid portrayal of emotional and intellectual development. This Penguin Modern Classics edition is edited with an introduction and notes by Seamus Deane.
The portrayal of Stephen Dedalus’s Dublin childhood and youth, his quest for identity through art and his gradual emancipation from the claims of family, religion and Ireland itself, is also an oblique self-portrait of the young James Joyce and a universal testament to the artist’s ‘eternal imagination’. Both an insight into Joyce’s life and childhood, and a unique work of modernist fiction, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is a novel of sexual awakening, religious rebellion and the essential search for voice and meaning that every nascent artist must face in order to fully come into themselves.
James Joyce (1882-1941), the eldest of ten children, was born in Dublin, but exiled himself to Paris at twenty as a rebellion against his upbringing. He only returned to Ireland briefly from the continent but Dublin was at heart of his greatest works, Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. He lived in poverty until the last ten years of his life and was plagued by near blindness and the grief of his daughter’s mental illness.
If you enjoyed A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, you might like Joyce’s Dubliners, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.
‘There is nothing more vivid or beautiful in all Joyce’s writing. It has the searing clarity of truth … but is rich with myth and symbol’
‘James Joyce was and remains almost unique among novelists in that he published nothing but masterpieces’
The Times Literary Supplement