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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Introducing … Stephen Dedalus
Great Kindle edition of Joyce's first great novel, which seems unabridged and has not been "improved" by half-witted editors that regularly insist on changing Joyce's idiosyncratic punctuation, etc.

Portrait is at times sublime in its evocations of The Artist's thoughts and perceptions. Highly recommended on its own, and as an intoduction to one of...
Published on March 8 2013 by J. A. I.

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3.0 out of 5 stars My Humble Opinion
James Joyce is a hero. Writing with a exceptionally unique style that fits the corresponding drama perfectly, he is able to involve several underlying themes that help advance the meaning of the book. The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is rich in detail and offers vital insights into Joyce?s art of portraying the internal struggles that all of us face within the...
Published on March 18 2002 by Ryan Meacham


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Introducing … Stephen Dedalus, March 8 2013
By 
Great Kindle edition of Joyce's first great novel, which seems unabridged and has not been "improved" by half-witted editors that regularly insist on changing Joyce's idiosyncratic punctuation, etc.

Portrait is at times sublime in its evocations of The Artist's thoughts and perceptions. Highly recommended on its own, and as an intoduction to one of Joyce's main characters in his magnum opus Ulysses.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent novel by one of the greatest writers, Nov. 8 2007
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This review is from: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Paperback)
If you're new to Joyce, this would the the book to start with. I definitely wouldn't start with Ulysses as that will put you off with its stream of consciousness. "Portrait" is much more user-friendly and easy to read. This novel is one of the greatest works in the English language. It is not only beautifully written but it can carry a different meaning for people at different stages of their life. Young high school students will find some themes very interesting while a man of 40 can draw new pleasure from reading it a second time. For those interested in Joyce's work, this is a good place to start, for it is easier than his other novels. This is not to say that it is an overly easy book to understand. Anyone who has read The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner knows that the stream of conscienceness style of writing can at times stifle reading comprehension but for the most part give a unique, exciting view of a character. Overall, though, this is an excellent novel and worthy of anyone's effort. As I said, this is a good place to start if you're looking for a Joyce induction. Would also recommend the novels "O Pioneers!" by Willa Cather and the Vonnegut book titled "Cat's Cradle"--these are something different as I don't like reading the same thing over na over.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, July 2 2004
By 
Brandon Annette (Norco, CA United States) - See all my reviews
Sure its pretentious, frustrating, difficult, etc., but it is also such a rewarding read. Boring sections like chapter 3 with the church sermon set up excellent ones, such as the end of Chapter 4, with Stephen's epiphany, which I must say is the most beautiful, glorious thing I have ever read. the emotion and symbolism (such as Stephen Dedalus taking flight from society much like his Greek namesake Daedalus did from an island) is simply overwhelming. I had to read this for a college english class (as well as write an essay on it) but i still enjoyed it. the stream of conciousness style may be too difficult and odd for some but i found a nice break from other literature, which is more than i can say for the similar novel To the Lighthouse by Woolf (also extremely good stylistically, but much less interesting). brilliant, but not a good introduction to joyce for those still in high school or not used to reading challenging literature. I would recommend "The Dead" to try him out first.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Not absurd, but definitely challenging, Oct. 29 2003
Unless you are a genius, you will not really enjoy this book with only one reading. Everything about this book is right, especially its literary structure. Joyce took about ten years writing it. At one point, it was a much longer book, but he chiseled it down to this jewel.
After my first reading, I felt a sense of accomplishment. But I knew there was more in the book than I got out of it. It was like Joyce dared me to reread it. My second reading was pure joy because I was able to grasp so much more of the book's structure than the first time around. He writes in stream-of-conscious, and understanding that is the real challenge. Events and creative language may appear random at first, but after looking at the novel's 'big picture,' you can see order.
The plot revolves around Stephen Daedalus' (James Joyce) coming of age, both as a young man and as an artist. Daedalus' personality and values contrast that of his Ireland, family, religion, etc. This is an auto-biography with plenty of artistic license. 'Stephen' was Christianity's first martyr. Daedalus was the creative genius in Greek mythology who made the Minotaur, the labyrinth, and Icarus' waxen wings. These types of detail pervade the novel. Take nothing for granted as you read.
This Penguin copy ISBN# 0451525442 has an excellent introduction. Do not start without reading an intro first. You will miss out.
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4.0 out of 5 stars "Our end is the acquisition of knowledge.", Aug. 13 2002
By 
Chris Salzer (Gainesville, GA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Paperback)
That Joyce quote from Portrait sums up not only my philosophy, but that of Steven Dedalus, Joyce's enigmatic protagonist as well. We see Steven through the eyes of the 3rd person narrator in this provocative, semi-autobiographical coming of age tale set in Ireland.
Joyce delves deep into many of life's questions that we all wonder about, mostly subconsciously. It is an allegorical tale of art and morality and a choice to be made between the two. Steven's strict Catholic school is the focus early on as Steven is faced with temptations and faces the aftermath of his transgressions. Steven then moves on to the university and evolves into an adult. At this point I became enthralled with the depth of the prose and finally bought into why this book came so highly acclaimed. The drunken conversations among Steven and Cranly & his college buds stimulates the mind as they delve deep into God's existence and how to achieve the greatest possible happiness for the greatest possible number of people. Don't be discouraged by a slow start - Joyce packs his most potent punch in Chapter 3 and on. Cheers.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Mixed Feelings, March 19 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Paperback)
Although A Portrait of The Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce has been called a masterpiece by many, I did not enjoy reading it. It was a very well sculpted book, but I found it very hard to follow and rather dull. I could not relate to it very well. The language used typical of the time period and I am not very familiar with what was happening in Ireland at this time.
The book is about the life of Stephen Dedalus, but it might as well be about Joyce himself. Joyce follows all aspects of Stephen's growth throughout the political and religious turmoil in Ireland during the early 20th century.
We are introduced to Stephen as a very young boy through his interactions with his peers at a Catholic boarding school and his experiences with his family who is torn apart over the religious and political issues of the time. This book describes young Stephen's search for himself in this confusing society which he finally throws of himself to become an artist.
It is obvious that Joyce wrote every word of this book very deliberately. He repeatedly uses different symbols and images throughout the book. I must admit that he skillfully uses style throughout this book to portray the feelings of the time according to Stephen at each different time in his life. For example, the book begins with his sporadic flow of thought that is common among boys his age. It eventually comes to a very organized journal-like style associated with young adults.
Joyce did a good job writing this book and was very careful with every aspect of it; however, I did not enjoy it and would not recommend it to anyone.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Joyce's Golden Phrases, March 18 2002
By 
Ocelot (San Francisco) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Paperback)
Following the plot of "A Portrait" is like trying to chase a fish through a murky, moss-covered swamp pond. Understanding the meanings in the work is as simple as clearly seeing the bottom of this same pool. The reader can feel the great depth of this bayou-book by the height of the clammy, chilling water on his body. Even when he has finally climbed out of the pond, moss and other marks cling to him. The reader can feel too the power of the work by the invisible, unmistakable currents and swirls that unceasingly surround him through his chase.
Why would someone read this book, a book with difficult plot and meaning, and unclear, intimidating depth and power? Obvious gold nuggets glint beneath the water, felt beneath the reader's feet, seen amidst sometimes muddy chapters: they are Joyce's masterful short phrases. They compel the reader forward, delighting him as he fumbles after the fish, chasing after this elusive, wriggling rainbow trout, a leprechaun leading to more gold. The imagery and alliteration of Joyce's short phrases force the reader on to each next page, and assure him that the tiring toil of draining this swamp is an effort well rewarded.
The entire mural of "A Portrait" may seem abstract and unclear, but the delicate images, the stinging images, the firm and the flimsy images--each is an intimately executed brushstroke or a perfectly mixed color that enchants the reader. These are the glinting nuggets hiding in the pond, chunks of pure lyric beauty. The images stick in your mind and haunt you like some catchy tune; the make you want to stride on onto the beach and run "far out over the sands, singing wildly to the sea" (123). To find these nuggets a perceptive reader will soon be "scraping the air from before his eyes with one hand as though he were tearing aside a cobweb" (25), hunting with fervency. He will wander "the dark, slimy streets peering into the gloom of lanes and doorways" (70). Even taken completely out of context as above, these "eerily convincing portrayals," as R.B. Kershner calls them, retain their majesty. And though an understanding of much of the novel may be as solid and stable as a dancing fire, "Above the flame the smoke of praise/ Goes up from ocean rim to rim" (159).
Joyce pleases the mind's eye, yes; but the mind's ear is his true workshop. His symphonic work has an enormous scope, but each alliterative phrase rises up from the orchestral noise as a melody to be inhaled. "Little, fiery flakes fell" (101);
"the warm, sunny city outside" (62); "the candlestick with its tendrils of tallow" (159). Here the gold nuggets come so thick that surely they comprise a vein that the reader must mine. They permeate "A Portrait", filling it: "cast down by the dull phenomenon of Dublin" (54); "darker than the swoon of sin, softer than sound or odour" (71); "stirring his soul slowly from its listless despair" (79). I will let the examples speak for themselves as they speak to the listening reader.
If the reader will feel each atom of gold, each artistic phrase, as he chases the elusive fish of plot, the swamp of confusion covering "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" will begin to drain, as Virginia Woolf's affirms in her commentary of the book. "Let us record the atoms as they fall upon the mind in the order in which they fall, let us trace the pattern, however disconnected and incoherent in appearance, which each sight or incidence scores upon the consciousness." And until those patterns become clear and the mossy water flows away, simply enjoy the gold glinting at us from below, radiant under Joyce's illuminating talent.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce, March 18 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Paperback)
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, by James Joyce is the story of a young man struggling to grow up and rise above the political, religious, and patriotic cords that bind him down. The book begins with Stephen reflecting on his childhood until he grows up to be a man with his own views. The story takes place in Ireland when there was much confusion in religion and politics. Stephen Dedalus was raised in a very patriotic home, which was also devoutly Catholic. Stephen, however, struggles with the strong views of his family and church. He doesn't quite know if he agrees with everyone around him. Throughout his life Stephen and his family have to move to different houses because of financial problems. This also causes Stephen to have to change schools, and become involved with different types of people. While he is changing schools externally, internally he is also changing; he is becoming a young man with ideas uniquely his own. Growing up is a great challenge for Stephen, he is thrown into many different situations and has people all around him trying to tell him what to think, and what to do with his life. He goes from having his first unexpected sexual relationship to feeling the awful guilt of his sins. Then he goes from wanting to become a priest to realizing that all he wants to do is get out of Ireland, and become his own expressive, unique self through art. He is not close minded to what people tell him, but he doesn't agree with what they tell him and he doesn't feel that it is for him. There is great symbolism and imagery in this book. There is a current theme of water and of birds. It is as if Stephan admires the birds, but they are also those in which "pull out his eyes ". They pull out his eyes because he wants so badly to be a bird and fly away, but can't because too many things are preventing him from flying away. Stephen wants to rise above the water and the filth of his life, this water and filth can be considered the church and political issues that occupy his and his family's lives. He wants to become like Dedalus and build himself wings to fly away; in the end of the book he does fly away, and a new life awaits him.
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3.0 out of 5 stars My Humble Opinion, March 18 2002
By 
This review is from: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Paperback)
James Joyce is a hero. Writing with a exceptionally unique style that fits the corresponding drama perfectly, he is able to involve several underlying themes that help advance the meaning of the book. The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is rich in detail and offers vital insights into Joyce?s art of portraying the internal struggles that all of us face within the drama of a single character, Stephen Dedalus. Perhaps the most salient brilliance of Joyce?s ability is painting the picture of simbolism and theme to allow the reader to internalize everything he reads.
The book opens in a rather ambiguous way. Jumbled phrases across the opening pages provoke images of confusion and disorder in the reader?s mind. Joyce masters the Stream of Consciousness style of writing, which reflects the spontaeous thought process that all of us experience. It is especially notable at the beginning when he describes the unfocused thoughts of the baby Stephen. With a light touch of humor Joyce reminds us how simple life was for all of us back then when all we had to worry about was the discomfort of ?wetting the bed?
(Portrait 1).
The reader then re-lives his life as he joins in with Stephen?s. We are first exposed to the unjust treatment from others when the bully Wells shoves Stephen into the nearby cesspool. The imagery is more than intense here when he comes out of the pool grimy, disgusting, and smelling like a sewer. Joyce even pencils in the detail about rats wallowing around in the pool. The theme of unjustice continues as Stephen is punished publicly for losing his glasses, something that he had no control over. The Catholic Father Dolan flogs him across the hands for ?intentionally? losing them so he wouldn?t have to study.
Another interesting piece of information that James Joyce includes for the benefit of the reader putting himself in the place of Stephen is the theme of physical beauty. Stephen experiences love all throughout the piece, starting first with the innocent love notes that he writes to a small girl his age, building to the prostitute with whom he has his first sexual experience, and culminating finally with the woman on the beach who he is infatuated with. This sexual passion arouses sympathetic feelings within the reader from all backgrounds. Everyone has experienced that true feeling of wanting to be with someone else.
My favorite part in the story is how Joyce deals with the issue of remaining true to religion, particularly the Catholic Church. Stephen is troubled by the fact that there is so much corruption within the church. He sees the imperfections within the church, but yet he somehow continues. Other characters present Joyce with the opportunity to let us look deep into the heart of Stephen and examine how he struggles. Much of Joyce?s audience has struggled with the decision of remaining true to the Catholic Church in spite of its many corruptions, or pioneering a new generation of religious loyalty elsewhere.
Towards the end of the novel Joyce touches on a reoccuring theme: freedom. Being free from religion as well as being free from Ireland (or the restraints that bound some individual). Again Joyce delicately works his way into the lives of his readers; all are faced with decisions of leaving their past lives, whether they be entrapped in the pits of smoking or the despair of being overweight, all of the readers of Jame Joyce are faced with that decision sooner or later. Stephen sees his escape from the island with drawing back to strength from the Greek artisan Dedalus, who crafted his own wings to escape. It seems that all of us somehow need to draw on strength from the past to give us motivation for the future. Many rely on examples from their parents. Others trust in counsel and advice given through the scriptures. All are in search of help from the past to live a better future.
All in all, Joyce masters his work and is able to assist the reader in making his own decisions in his own life while doing it through the life of his central character. If I were anything but American, I might consider moving to Ireland.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Complex Read, Yet Excellent, Nov. 8 2001
By 
Joyce's portrayal of turn of the century Ireland with all of its complex social and political problems is an excellent backdrop for this story, and he vividly describes Stephen Dedalus' role in a complex story. First, I enjoy Joyce's writing style and his ability to develop Stephen's character. It is easy to relate to Stephen's development of thoughts.
I enjoyed how Joyce starts the story with Stephen as a boy, because this shows his vulnerability and dependence upon his parents for his political, religious, and social views. His interaction among the boys at Clongowes brought back my own memories from elementary school and my own interactions with students. He wants to be accepted by his peers, and Joyce shows this by his embarrassments and fears in taking a stand. Stephen is small in stature and in his confidence, but his triumph when he talks to the rector is an excellent scene because it shows Stephen developing his own independent thoughts and being able to stand up for them.
I enjoy Joyce's vivid descriptions because they include the physical realm as well as Stephen's thoughts. This is shown throughout the book - one scene in particular is when Stephen goes to Belvedere College and he has an encounter with Heron, Boland, and Nash. The four are walking on a country road, discussing their favorite authors, when Stephen states that his is Lord Byron. The boys laugh, claiming that Tennyson is the obvious choice. They pin him down and try to get him to revoke the statement, and he refuse to do so. I admire Stephen's strength in his own opinions, this example shows that he has developed his own ideas and will stand for them. Joyce's imagery makes the scenes, including Stephen's emotions, come alive. He writes, "At last after a fury of plunges he wrenched himself free. His tormentors set off towards Jones's Road, laughing and jeering at him, while he, half blinded with tears, stumbled on, clenching his fists madly and sobbing" (57). Stephen's emotions come alive; I can relate to the hot, angry tears he feels.
I also appreciate Joyce's writings concerning the political and religious situation in Ireland. Somewhat unaware of the problems surging in Ireland at this time, Joyce describes indirectly these problems, which fills in the reader as to the political, religious, and social context behind Stephen's life and development. One scene which made these problems clear to me was the Christmas dinner squabble between Dante and Mr. Dedalus. Stephen quietly sits back and soaks in his relatives' opinions in amazement at the scene. This scene is one of those that is when a child realizes that life has problems and the world is not in order, as he hopes. I recognize this mark of change in Stephen's confidence in his family and country.
Stephen's development is one of the greatest aspects of this book. Joyce causes Stephen's thoughts to evolve - he starts with childlike, unconnected thoughts to more complex, opinionated ones. His own desires and opinions are made known as he matures, and his own unrest becomes increasingly apparent. Furthermore, the style of this book is complex - one must read between the lines and have some kind of concept of Irish conflicts and culture in order to truly understand the full meaning behind this book. It is sometimes hard to follow Joyce's jumpy style - there is no full plot structure. This is not the best book if you are looking for a fast, easy romance novel, but it is rewarding in that it causes one to think about its themes and Stephen's development of the independence of his own soul.
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A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce (Paperback - May 20 1994)
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