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A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

3.6  ·  Rating Details ·  98,695 Ratings  ·  3,711 Reviews
First published in 1916, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is one of the masterpieces of modern fiction. James Joyce's semi-autobiographical first novel, this is the story of Stephen Dedalus, a sensitive and creative youth who rebels against his family, his education, and his country by committing himself to artistic life. Joyce's brilliant rendering of the impressio ...more
Paperback, First Signet Classic Printing, 256 pages
Published June 4th 1991 by Signet Classic (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

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
Bookworm 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
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
Anthony Vacca
Jul 25, 2016 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
Jun 18, 2009 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
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
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 16, 2011 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
Momina Masood
Aug 27, 2016 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
Aug 03, 2016 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
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
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 03, 2015 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
Riku Sayuj
Jan 27, 2014 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
Jun 13, 2016 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)
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 06, 2013 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook

There are writers I've never got around to reading. There are others I've spent decades avoiding. Joyce is in the second category. I picked up Ulysses once or twice when I was in my twenties, read a few lines and allowed myself to be completely intimidated. However, I've recently developed an interest in expatriate writers in Paris in the 1920s and 1930s. A couple of months ago I read the very interesting Sylvia Beach's memoir of this period and I'm currently reading Noël Riley Fitch's biography
May 24, 2007 Kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: young people in some sort of transition
I think this book is best read at a very specific time. I think there needs to be a restlessness in you, the need for difference, an awareness of yourself and your own needs that is just beginning to emerge. I think this novel is inspiring for people in that situation. Particularly those in their late teens and early twenties. It's a coming of age novel. Certainly the most accessible of any of James Joyce's novels. I don't think I would have been ready for it when I started high school, and I mi ...more
João Fernandes
Dec 19, 2015 João Fernandes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
"What did it profit a man to gain the whole world if he lost his soul?"

I had to take some time to gather my thoughts for this one. 'Portrait' brought it home on a number of levels for me.

I had, in the years I spent in Dublin, personally experienced the still suffocating pressure of the Catholic Church on this 'secular' state, as much as I ever had in Portugal. 'Portrait' exposes this in its smaller, most important form, the individual struggles of the soul's perception of itself against its or
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
UPDATE at bottom:

A proper review, perhaps, tomorrow. But for now, two points:

1.) see my comments on Dubliners:

2.) One key passage, again from part V. Stephen is already allowing his mind to be drawn away from realism (meaning) towards the 'vocalism' (if I can put it thus) that marks Ulysses and Finnegan's Wake:

"Through this image he had a glimpse of a strange dark cavern of speculation but at once turned away from it, feeling that it was not yet the hour
Mar 31, 2007 Jeffrey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People Looking For Voice/Transition
Shelves: favorites
I read this book as high school senior, which I think is a fitting time. This book, quite suprisingly, made me look at and love literature in a way that I hadn't before largely because I connected with Dedalus in way I hadn't connected with any other literary character, not even Holden. Dedalus and I were both going through points of transition in our lives and we both were searching for some meaning, which meant, for us, that we would have to leave a world that was at once comfortable and painf ...more
Jun 04, 2008 Penny rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: try-again-later
I am three quarters of the way through this book, and I've just decided to bail out.

I have Irish Catholic heritage, so the early part of the book was mildly interesting because I could relate to the quasi-gnosticism of the priests in the boys' school.

Later on I stuck with it because I kept thinking that, eventually, there had to be some flesh-and-blood characters that I'd care about, some relationships between people (or even some realistic conversations), a tiny bit of action taking place outs
Parastoo Ashtian
اگر فردي روحش را گم كند چه سودي دارد كه تمام دنيا را داشته باشد.
از متن كتاب
David Sarkies
Jan 25, 2015 David Sarkies rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anybody
Recommended to David by: I've always wanted to read this book
Shelves: modernist
Opens with the word 'moocow'
22 January 2015

Well, here is a portrait of an artist as a young man:

Portrait of Young Renoir

though I am not sure if that is the type of artist that Joyce was referring to when he wrote this book, so maybe this one would be a little better:

Portrait of Percy Shelley

yet considering that this book is semi-autobiographical maybe, just maybe, this would be a better one:

Portrait of James Joyce

Unfortunately, I would hardly say that he is a young man in this particular painting, and since it wasn't until 1916 when he published A Portrait of an
In high school I was assigned this book. I may have been the only one in the class to get through it. I remember I liked it very much, though it is unlikely I had much to say about it. Being from an Irish Catholic family myself, I have a vague memory of thinking it amazing that Joyce thought to write down what he was thinking when in school interacting with the priests. It wouldn’t have occurred to me, though of course many of the terrors he imagined were mine as well. I would not have considere ...more
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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.” 1132 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.” 795 likes
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