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A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

3.6  ·  Rating Details ·  102,108 Ratings  ·  3,886 Reviews
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is the first novel of Irish writer James Joyce. A Künstlerroman in a modernist style, it traces the religious and intellectual awakening of young Stephen Dedalus, a fictional alter ego of Joyce and an allusion to Daedalus, the consummate craftsman of Greek mythology. Stephen questions and rebels against the Catholic and Irish convent ...more
Kindle Edition, 236 pages
Published (first published December 29th 1916)
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Liam Royle My edition is the one given here (1992, Wordsworth Classics, same ISBN) and only has 196 pages (plus 4 pages of "introduction"). I'm not sure where…moreMy edition is the one given here (1992, Wordsworth Classics, same ISBN) and only has 196 pages (plus 4 pages of "introduction"). I'm not sure where the claim of 238 is coming from on the page.(less)

Community Reviews

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Jul 07, 2007 Nathan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shut up James, you had me at 'moo-cow.'
Rakhi Dalal
"Et ignotas animum dimittit in artes”(And he sets his mind to unknown arts.)
- Ovid

The above mentioned quote from Ovid, which appears at the start of the work, best describes the conclusion of a journey of an artist through his self, trying to come up with things that matter most, while still trying to discern his place in this world.

I still remember the day, when as a teenager, ready to explore the world around me, I, once looked up in the sky, which was sunny and inspiring, and
Bookdragon Sean
“His soul was swooning into some new world, fantastic, dim, uncertain as under sea, traversed by cloudy shapes and beings. A world, a glimmer or a flower? Glimmering and trembling, trembling and unfolding, a breaking light, an opening flower, it spread in endless succession to itself, breaking in full crimson and unfolding and fading to palest rose, leaf by leaf and wave of light by wave of light, flooding all the heavens with its soft flushes, every flush deeper than the other.”

Thus awareness

And there he was following the alleys, away from his original filial shell, searching where the way would take him, and there were icons on the walls. Icons of guilt, icons of duty. Some promised a reality beyond those grey walls announcing that there would be more light – but still imagined. Some pretended a glorious past and a glorious and heroic future for the community -- an imaginary polity.

Captivating nets of restricting nationalism, coined discourses and gelled devotions.

He took the tur
Michael Finocchiaro
I read this back in high school (and a few times since) and it blew my mind. The textual maturity grows as Stephen Daedalus grows and it is absolutely captivating. The scene where his knuckles are beaten in class (thank goodness we have moved beyond corporal punishment in schools for the most part!) was so real that my hands ached. You of course see Stephen Daedalus again in Stephen Hero as well as Ulysses.
A must read.
Anthony Vacca
Jan 12, 2014 Anthony Vacca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014, irish, rage-reviews
Forget The Perks of Being an Insufferable Wimp; forget the hollow, hipster-plasticity of Holden Cauliflower and his phony attempts at wry observations on adolescence; forget that clumsy excuse of an experimental storyteller that is Jonathan Safran Foer, aka “Meat is Murder” Johnny, with his nauseating, gee-I-guess-our-hearts-really-are-just-too-big-to-fit-into-one-sentence-after-all mentality; forget all that useless bullshit, if, like me, you can pick up James Joyce’s The Portrait of an Artist ...more
Shine Sebastian
Words, art, life...
Life, art, words...


James Joyce,... what a masterful writer!!
This book is insightful, poetic, artistic and profound.
It is , if I may say so, a tour de force of wisdom and language.

I will try to make this review not ridiculously long, but as you can imagine, when a book is this good, there is no way you can write a short review and be satisfied. So let's take a look at Joyce's brilliance,

1. Language - Joyce's language is fresh and unique, his techniques and style
Jul 07, 2008 Sparrow rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Zach Braff
Recommended to Sparrow by: Mat and Patrick Kearney
Shelves: reviewed
This book is a very dry, written version of the Dead Poet’s Society without Robin Williams. I was already grateful to Whoopi Goldberg this week for her reasonable comments about the most recent Sarah Palin ridiculousness, so I feel kind of bitter at having to be grateful for the other half of that daring duo. I had sworn them as my nemeses – minor nemeses, yes, of nowhere near the caliber of Charlie Kaufman, David Lynch, or Harold Bloom, but nemeses nonetheless. Now, I find myself thinking, “It’ ...more
He longed to let life stream in through the windows of his mind in all its sordid and colorful glory so that he could sift through the layers of feeling, impulse and meaning and find what his restless soul craved for - that shred of truth too primevally pristine for anyone to begrime. But the world intruded rudely upon his solemn preoccupations, planted seeds of insidious doubt wherever it could find the soft, yielding ground of inchoate perceptions. His oppressors were many and unapprehended - ...more
Renato Magalhães Rocha
"Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed. A yellow dressinggown, ungirdled, was sustained gently behind him on the mild morning air. He held the bowl aloft and intoned:
Introibo ad altare Dei."
Scratch that.

At the last minute, before witnessing Buck Mulligan mocking one of church's most important celebratory traditions and embarking on my odyssey with Ulysses, I decided to take the time to get acquainted with Step
APRIL 19 (Evening): Alright. This is insane. It has been almost eighteen, 18 (has more impact) hours since I sat down to scribble something about what is going on in my mind but the right words are still elusive. And this eluding is colluding my mind no bounds. No, I did not mean to create any sense of rhythmic rhyme here. Because life is no rhyme. And far from rhythmic. It is a battle – fierce, dark, compounded with many elements and munitions and machineries and what not. It is a forever ragin ...more
Jan 19, 2017 Fernando rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Con el correr del tiempo y de las lecturas de sus libros, James Joyce se ha transformado en un escritor realmente interesante para mí. Su maestría literaria y su genialidad narrativa lo transforman en un artista todo terreno. Además de “Dublineses”, libro que pienso releer pronto, de “Ulises” que mi gran desafío literario cumplido el año pasado y del que leeré este año, me refiero al “Finnegan’s Wake” y este libro que pasa a formar parte de aquellas novelas que leo con tranquilidad, dejándome ll ...more
First off, I have too many shelves, so Joyce must sit on the "lit-british" shelf, spinning him in his grave no doubt. (No longer! now an Irish shelf!)

I read the book first in college (not for a course), then a second time a couple years ago. The 40+ year gap provided an interesting test as to what would seem familiar and what wouldn't. I barely recognized the earlier parts of the novel, more recollection (not very detailed) as I progressed. Finally I reached the end, and was shocked as I read th
Paul Bryant
Sep 25, 2007 Paul Bryant rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, joyce

(Note : this is not part of the current ongoing Celebrity Death Match series organised by Manny but I thought I would revive it as a companion piece)


BUCK MULLIGAN : Come on, kinch, you fearful jesuit. I’ve got a tenner on this so I have so get in that square ring and batter this lollybogger senseless.

STEPHEN : Pro quibus tibi offérimus, vel qui tibi ófferunt hoc sacrifícium laudis.

BUCK MULLIGAN : Give us a rest of your g
Jul 27, 2007 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Joyce is brilliant. And he knows it. And he loathes it.

Forget the complexity of his prose (see Ulysses and Finnegan’s Wake for the really outlandish bits). Forget his literary stature. Forget his Ireland and his guilt and his Christ. Portrait provides the reader with a character with such depth and realism that I almost can’t stop crapping my pants thinking about it. His approach in crafting Stephen Dedalus (and, thus, himself) is profound, and Joyce would be legend by this invention alone. The
Feb 26, 2017 Afshar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Non Serviam :بندگی نخواهم نمود
گفتم دین بیمارستان نیست که آدم تویش بستری بشود. مادر گذشت کرد. می گفت تو ذهن عجیبی داری و زیاد چیز خوانده ای. درست نیست. کم خوانده ام و کمتر فهمیده ام. بعد گفت تو بالاخره یک روزی به دین برمی گردی چون ذهن بیقراری داری. این یعنی کلیسا را از در عقب گناه ترک کردن و دوباره از پنجره سقفی توبه به آن وارد شدن. نمی توانم توبه کنم

این کتاب تصویری است از اسارت نوجوانی ایرلندی در چنگ افکار سنتی؛ خانواده و مذهب و ملی گرایی
و رهایی اش از آنها و آشنا شدن با دنیای بزرگ هنر و پیدا ک
Jan 20, 2014 Agnieszka rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, 2014, reviewed

We can read A Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man as a prequel to Ulyssess but if we reject for a while first associations then what's left ? An intimate, inner portrait of a young man who attempts to define himself as a man and an artist. If we read it this way - then it is simply an universal story about the torments of adolescence and search for his own identity, his own voice.

Stephen Dedalus, overwhelmed by Irish God-and-Homeland tradition, is suffocating by provincionalism of late 19th
Miss Ravi
Nov 19, 2016 Miss Ravi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
فقط ما نبودهایم که در بچگی ما را از جهنم و عذابهایش ترساندهاند. آویزان شدن از موها یکی از تصویرهای جدی من از جهنم بوده و هست. برای پیروان ادیان دیگر نوع عذابها فرق دارد اما ریشهاش یکی است. درگیری با دین مضمون قابل توجهی است و با ذهن استیون ددالوس این موضوع به کنکاش پیچیدهای تبدیل میشود. روایت جویس را میپسندم. صبوریاش در پیش بردن داستان او را به قصهگوی باحوصلهای تبدیل میکند که خوانندهاش را به ذهن پر آشوب شخصیتاش میبرد و سیر کردن در ذهن ددالوس مثل غرق شدن در دنیای خود جویس است. ...more
Momina Masood
Jul 28, 2014 Momina Masood rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: The student of modernist literature
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Woman

"Already in the preface to Richard Wagner it is asserted that art—and not morality—is the true metaphysical activity of man; several times in the book itself the provocative sentence recurs that the existence of the world is justified (gerechtfertigt) only as an aesthetic phenomenon." –Friedrich Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy

The moon has been sighted, the siren is sounding through the air and Eid celebrations have begun here where I sit writing. The hol
Jan 28, 2008 John rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
An semi-autobiographic novel, featuring a fictionalized character as Joyce's alter-ego, it traces his formative childhood years that led him ambivalently away from a vocation in the clergy and into that of literature.

There are sections which appealed to me (a priestly sermon on the damnation of ones soul into hell is particularly vivid), but by and large the plot line was too disjointed for me to engage with. Uncertain of exactly where I had been or what path the novel was taking me, I found m
Barry Pierce
Oh my god guys JOYCE. This is genuinely one of the best books I've read so far this year. Not really a plot driven novel but more a character study of the young Stephen Dedalus and his journey through his teen years. While some aspects of this novel may be difficult to understand if you don't have just a little knowledge of Irish history (names like Charles Stewart Parnell, Michael Davitt, and Wolfe Tone are mentioned quite a lot), I feel like that doesn't effect the enjoyment you can get from t ...more
Mar 28, 2009 Bonnie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unlike Ulysses, which I have tried to read too many times to count (the furthest I made it was halfway), I have read Portrait twice: once in my twenties, and again a few years ago. Although I found the religious sections a bit tedious, I was pleased to discover that my appreciation for the rest of Joyce's portrayal has increased considerably over the years.
Aug 16, 2014 Cheryl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Philosophical types
My college English professor was a huge fan of Greek mythology. So imagine his delight at dissecting the mind of Dedulus, an illusion to the Greek craftsman, Daedulus. I didn't fully understand Stephen Dedulus then, and I'm still unsure how much I understand him now. Come to think of it, can we ever fully grasp the method of James Joyce, this singular author who has managed to create masterpieces of all his novels? Do most of us even truly understand James Joyce's prose, or is it the pressure of ...more
Ian "Marvin" Graye
Birds in Flight

"For ages, men [have] gazed upward as [they've been] gazing at birds in flight."

Not surprisingly for a novel whose principal character is "Dedalus", its core theme is flight, in two senses: departure (or escape from captivity) and ascent (if not ascension).

When we meet Stephen Dedalus, he is an infant, a "baby tuckoo", a bird whose wings have not yet grown or become functional.

Over the course of five chapters, we witness him flee family, church, politics, country and pedestri
Simona Bartolotta
Mar 19, 2017 Simona Bartolotta rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1900
...Sorry I didn't grasp the part about hell. Could you start that all over?
Issa Deerbany
May 23, 2017 Issa Deerbany rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
من اروع السير الذاتية التي قرأتها .
المؤلف من مرحلة الطفولة والمراهقة في مدرسة كهنوتيةًوتعليمه المسيحي الى المواقف والحوارات في هذه المرحلة مع زملائه في المدرسة الى إجازاته في بيته والحوارات بين ابيه وأعمامه واصدقاء ابيه.
في مرحلة المراهقة عصى الاله وما اروع الأفكار الشخصية التي دارت في عقله بين النوبه والاعتراف للقس عما ارتكبه وكذلك بعض ما كان يشرحه الأساتذة في هذه المدرسة واروعها وصف النار في الآخرة والعذاب .
أحب الروايات التي تختم بالتفاصيل سواء كانت مناظر جميله تو بشعه ووصف للأشخاص . وهذه السير
Riku Sayuj
Feb 04, 2011 Riku Sayuj rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

First thoughts:

Novel - executed in the fine tradition of the autobiographical novels of the European romantic movement.

Artist - an Epicurean with a studied bookish air and an affected intellectual confidence; narcissistic, if endearingly earnest; frightened away from his equals and home; looking for a worthy platform, to place the burden of the blame. An ‘artist’ only by self-definition who concludes too grandly and too futilely and too prematurely. Definitely no Künstlerroman. Can’t wait for th
MJ Nicholls

Completed in its completeness back in the handsome daze of 2007 and partially re-read (up to p160) on Dec 5 2012. I emerged battered from the fiery pulpit chapter, hell licking at my wary eyeballs as Dedalus blubbers his sins in the confessional, hankering for some sin-making and utterly, totally and completely ready to never read this again. I wrote a very detailed review on September 7th 2007 at the moist age of twenty. Excuse the cute naivety of my prose.


The Very Essence of Adolescen
Jan 07, 2015 Jibran rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, irish
A Portrait of the Artist is an Old Mushroom Face, quips Bohumil Hrabal in Too Loud a Solitude.

I will write something briefly about the book, soon I reckon.

(view spoiler)
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  • Mountolive (The Alexandria Quartet #3)
  • Ulysses Annotated
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  • James Joyce's Ulysses: A Study
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  • The Good Soldier
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  • A High Wind in Jamaica
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James Joyce, Irish novelist, noted for his experimental use of language in such works as Ulysses (1922) and Finnegans Wake (1939). Joyce's technical innovations in the art of the novel include an extensive use of interior monologue; he used a complex network of symbolic parallels drawn from the mythology, history, and literature, and created a unique language of invented words, puns, and allusions ...more
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“His heart danced upon her movements like a cork upon a tide. He heard what her eyes said to him from beneath their cowl and knew that in some dim past, whether in life or revery, he had heard their tale before.” 1154 likes
“I will tell you what I will do and what I will not do. I will not serve that in which I no longer believe, whether it calls itself my home, my fatherland, or my church: and I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as I can, using for my defense the only arms I allow myself to use -- silence, exile, and cunning.” 820 likes
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