dragonhelmuk's Reviews > A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
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Jul 24, 11


** spoiler alert ** Kindled for free. Read as revision for exams... Terrible and boring book. The "artist" is a ghastly child who turns into a disillusioned young man (surprise). Basically "how I came to despise everything except my own witty retorts" should be the title. Three quotes to illustrate.

(Central pivot – disillusionment)
How foolish his aim had been! He had tried to build a break-water of order and elegance against the sordid tide of life without him and to dam up, by rules of conduct and active interest and new filial relations, the powerful recurrence of the tides within him. Useless.

(Pretentiousness)
What is audible is presented in time, what is visible is presented in space. But, temporal or spatial, the esthetic image is first luminously apprehended as selfbounded and selfcontained upon the immeasurable background of space or time which is not it.

—The Greek, the Turk, the Chinese, the Copt, the Hottentot, said Stephen, all admire a different type of female beauty. That seems to be a maze out of which we cannot escape. I see, however, two ways out. One is this hypothesis: that every physical quality admired by men in women is in direct connexion with the manifold functions of women for the propagation of the species. It may be so. The world, it seems, is drearier than even you, Lynch, imagined. For my part I dislike that way out. It leads to eugenics rather than to esthetic. It leads you out of the maze into a new gaudy lecture-room where MacCann, with one hand on THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES and the other hand on the new testament, tells you that you admired the great flanks of Venus because you felt that she would bear you burly offspring and admired her great breasts because you felt that she would give good milk to her children and yours.

—This hypothesis, Stephen repeated, is the other way out: that, though the same object may not seem beautiful to all people, all people who admire a beautiful object find in it certain relations which satisfy and coincide with the stages themselves of all esthetic apprehension.

(Rubbish poetry)
Are you not weary of ardent ways, Lure of the fallen seraphim? Tell no more of enchanted days. Your eyes have set man's heart ablaze And you have had your will of him. Are you not weary of ardent ways? Above the flame the smoke of praise Goes up from ocean rim to rim. Tell no more of enchanted days. Our broken cries and mournful lays Rise in one eucharistic hymn. Are you not weary of ardent ways? While sacrificing hands upraise The chalice flowing to the brim. Tell no more of enchanted days. And still you hold our longing gaze With languorous look and lavish limb! Are you not weary of ardent ways? Tell no more of enchanted days.
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