James Joyce

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1915)

 

James Joyce: (1882-1941)

Born in Rathgar, near Dublin, Ireland to a financially inept father and a pious mother. Eldest of 10 children. Sent to prestigious boarding school then to college where he excelled as writer and actor. Attended University College in Dublin where his interest in Modernism started.

1902 left university, moved to Paris.

1903 returned to Ireland on death of his mother. Shortly after, he started working on his novel.

1914-15 serial publication of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

1915 completed Portrait in Zurich then returned to Paris.

 

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Stephen Daedalus, growing up in Ireland at end of 19th century, gradually casts off his social, familial, and religious constraints in order to devote himself to art.

 

      Attends a strict boarding school (Clongowes Wood College) but soon finds his place among the other boys there.

      At a Christmas dinner at his family's he becomes aware of the political situations as family argues over the death of Charles Parnell (Irish political leader, fights for independence. Died a year after Catholic Church condemned him for his affair with a married woman)

      Family moves to Dublin. Stephen becomes writer & actor when he attends Belvedere.

      First sexual experience with young Dublin prostitutes leaves him with guilt and shame. He abandons his religious upbringing and pursues his own pleasures, even if sinful.

      After a few religious sermons, he decides to return to religion, so attends Mass daily.

      Director of school encourages him to become a priest. He considers it but sees that it conflicts with his appreciation of beauty.

      On a walk on the beach, he is hit by the epiphany (upon seeing a girl swimming) that love of beauty should not cause shame so decides not to let family or religion stand in his way.

      Among debates with his university companions, Stephen formulates his theory of art. While needing his friends as listeners, he decides to be independent in thought so leaves Ireland to escape their pressures.

 

More:

      Daedalus: myth: built wings to fly above all obstacles.

      Views artist as a solitary figure whose job is to give voice to the community he leaves.

      Language changes from that of a child, to a teenager, to an adult.

      Known for his stream of consciousness and his use of epiphanies (sudden moment promoted by external object or inner thoughts where character makes profound realization that changes his perception of the world)

      Novel refers heavily to Joyce's life but employs many fictional scenes.

      Novel refers to Irish politics/religion in early 20th century. (mostly Catholic, Irish wanted independence from Protestant Britain, sparked by 1845 potato plight Irish/British tension)

 

http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/portraitartist/