James Joyce: A Portrait of the Artist
"A Portrait of the Artist" James Joyce's semi-autobiographical first novel, tells the story of Stephen Dedalus, a sensitive and creative youth who rebels against his family, his education, and his country by committing himself to the artist's life. The book starts with Joyce recalling a few childhood memories which will most likely stir memories in the reader as well. Joyce has very colorful descriptions of his parents, relatives, and his teachers, especially various Irish Catholic priests. The prose and writing in "A Portrait of the Artist" is among the most impressive that most will ever see. The book contains beautiful descriptions of Joyce's childhood, then Catholic schools, then his college days. Laced with Irish expressions and phrases, the prose and vocabulary avoids lengthy Hemingway-like phrases. Expressive and sometimes rambling, James Joyce's prose is truly creative though not always very well structured. Joyce provides no narration in "A Portrait of the Artist," instead, writing as if we are watching a movie, mostly going forward in time but not always. The reader is left to sort out the time and place or if it is real or just a dream as we travel from scene to scene through the book. It is up to the reader to determine what it all means from the dialogue. "A Portrait of the Artist" is truly superb, making it easy to appreciate why Joyce became famous.
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