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James Joyce: Portrait of a Dubliner: A Graphic Biography

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  713 ratings  ·  110 reviews
A dazzling, prize-winning graphic biography of one of the world's most revered writers.

Winner of Spain's National Comic Prize and published to acclaim in Ireland, here is an extraordinary graphic biography of James Joyce that offers a fresh take on his tumultuous life. With evocative anecdotes and hundreds of ink-wash drawings, Alfonso Zapico invites the reader to share Jo
Hardcover, 231 pages
Published May 3rd 2016 by Arcade (first published 2011)
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Average rating 3.83  · 
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David Schaafsma
This is a fanboy's introduction to Joyce based on his reading of Richard Ellman's definitive biography, which I highly recommend. To me Joyce is the greatest novelist in English, the pinnacle (and no, I haven't yet climbed Finnegan's Wake) (yet). So this is a kind of way into Joyce as you begin reading, I guess, but I was disappointed because anything about Joyce I will check out. The text is simple and more straightforward than a writer like Joyce deserves. But I haven't read it in the original ...more
David Lentz
Aug 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I have devoured every major work that James Joyce ever wrote, including "Portrait", "Dubliners", "Finnegans Wake" and in the case of "Ulysses" have savored it half a dozen times. Joyce may well be the greatest novelist who ever wrote in the English language. Consequently, I have also consumed a bevy of books about his life as such an understanding informs an appreciation of the creative process and his overcoming the high hurdles of the track of his life. For example, I have read and reviewed on ...more
Auntie Terror
Oct 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphic-novel
Four point something stars, actually.
I liked the style of drawing, and it fit the general flow of Joyce's life which could almost be summed up as "the luck of the Irish". Only almost, though. It is an interesting biographical graphic novel and makes Joyce's life easily accessible, but being that, there is only so much credit the creators can be given for the "story", I think.
Julie Ehlers
This was disappointing. The art was nice, but the text was simplistic, often juvenile. If it weren't for the occasional nudity and constant talk of drinking and "whoring," this could be given to an 11-year-old with no fear they couldn't comprehend it. I also found the portrayal of Joyce's publication history extremely confusing and kept having to go back and reread parts--and I was already pretty familiar with Joyce's publication history, so I can't imagine how it would be for someone who's new ...more
Ashley Adams
A graphic novel treatment of Joyce's biography. Gives historical context and a sense of whimsy.
May 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scribd, non-fiction
Like Jane Austen, James Joyce is also one of the famous authors in English literature. Ulysses and Dubliners are some of his creations that been mentioned again and again in other fiction and nonfiction. Through this biography, I learned a lot about who he is and his background as a man and an author.

Truth to be told, I was not impressed with what I found. Tho, this graphic biography did deliver what it supposed to!

I received my copy free through Goodreads Giveaways
My daughter took this one to enjoy
Oct 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
He had to come to realize that a heretical lifestyle was more manageable, and lot more fun, than constant pangs of guilt.

Gluttony is English. Pride is French. Wrath is Spanish. Lust, contrary to appearances, is German. Sloth is Slav. The Italian sin is avarice. And of course, for the Irish, I've reserved envy. / And the Jews? What is the sin of the Jews, Joyce? / The Jews? They have none, unless it's the one that is always pinned on them: the deadliest of all. You know, crucifying Jesus..
Derek Royal
May 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this graphic biography on Joyce more than I thought I would. In many ways I feel at a loss, in that I wasn't well versed in Joyce's life story to begin with, only his writings. There's the Ellmann biography, which, from what I understand is a classic, but I haven't read this. But even though I have nothing to compare it to, I'll take Zapico on his domain and assume that he's as accurate as possible (and he even provides a list of references in the back of the book). A limitation of a c ...more
Mar 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-comics
The beginning is a little rough, as the author gives a family history of Joyce without much story narrative. I also found Joyce as a person to be very egotistical.

However, as a comic, this was great. It contains a whole lot of information that very rarely felt condensed. The art is grayscale ink wash, and the aritist did a wonderful job of distinguing people from one another. Since there were a ton of characters, many teamporary in Joyce's life, that's very impressive.

Even with the rejections an
A lovely, heartfelt, illustrative, humorous and overall beautiful comic biography of James Joyce. Though it may not be 100% faithful with certain details, it gives the reader an amazing retelling of his life.

Mar 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very nice biography of James Joyce in the form of a graphic novel. The author tells about the life of the Irish writer in beautiful images and with much humor. I am still anxious of reading Ulysses, but I'm even more curious now, as well :)
Ije the Devourer of Books
I thought this was a brilliant depiction of the biography of the author James Joyce. The art was good and the story was not overwhelmed by text. It is a good introduction to the life of James. Joyce and to his writing. I haven't read anything by James Joyce but now I am intrigued enough to do so.
Liz Yerby
Dec 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book is clearly very well researched. I found it more telling than showing, but still it kept my interest. While the drawings were very detailed and charming I felt the reading of the book wasn't as intuitive as I would've liked.
Oct 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A most excellent biography. Balanced and critical and utilizing the opportunities of the graphic novel to the fullest. Should nearly be required reading for anyone taking on Joyce's works.
Aug 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
I read this book, because I like James Joyce's Dubliners and I wanted to learn more about this author.
The design is really nice and the story is entertaining and really interesting.
I'm just not sure if everything is "real", because the facts are presented in a different way in Joyce's Museum in Sandycove and in Dublin... (i.e. the fact that Gogarty shot above Joyce's bed in Sandycove because he didn't appreciate to be called a snob in one of Joyce's poems wasn't mentioned, it was just said that
I enjoyed reading this as a light introduction to James Joyce’s life and it has made me more interested to read Ellman’s biography on Joyce. I’m not sure if the graphical novel format is the best one to capture such a complex life as Joyce’s seem to have been. For example there are so many different people that are mentioned that Joyce meets and I assume they played some part in his life, but sometimes a box mentions maybe 5-10 people and occasionally it feels more like name dropping than contri ...more
Sasha Boersma
Visuals were stunning and interesting. But the written part was over simplified and had terrible spelling and grammar (fault of the translator and English publisher, not the original author). Was it an attempt at a literal translation but failed because Spanish is more expressive of a language? Or just sloppy? Why was there no copy editor?

It took away from a potentially interesting presentation of Joyce's biography. I wish I could read Spanish so I could have the opportunity to review the origi
Sean Kottke
Mar 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel, 2019
A straightforward graphic biography of James Joyce. It doesn't dig deeply into his writing or offer the novice Joyce scholar much beyond the story of the author's life, the people he met, and the places he lived. I'm inspired to do a tour of Joyce places, like Michael Palin's Hemingway Adventure, getting sloshed at various watering holes near the places he lived and wrote and seeing what sort of creativity or lack thereof it might inspire. This book provides all the details one would need to fin ...more
Lisa Macklem
Dec 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a beautifully illustrated book and quite text heavy. It is quite anecdotal, so while extremely amusing, interesting and fun to read, I'm not sure how historically detailed it is. It also reads like a who's who of the literati of the times - which of course, it should. Even if you are not a fan of Joyce's work, if you are a fan of the time period, well worth the read.
A brilliant read about the life of one of the best writers of all times - James Joyce.
- Surprisingly, he kept himself away from Ireland most of his life and died in Zurich.
- His books especially Ulysses was banned in the USA deemed as too obscene until the 1930s.
- He was quite admired, almost famous during his lifetime.
Sherry Schwabacher
I can only thank God I didn't have to live with James Joyce. He really was monstrous as a person. The only thing more monstrous, apparently, was his talent! I thank Zapico for reading all those biographies of Joyce and presenting it in a digestible volume. Now if someone could do the same for Finnegan's Wake!
May 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comics, m, nonfiction, auto-bio
Excellent. I'm not sure what else I would hope to see from a graphic biography. Joyce is treated objectively, but with a great deal of interest, and everything is clear and well thought out. Highly recommend.
Barbara V. Vaughan
Clever Biography

The language in its book is very concise. World history and the itinerant life of James Joyce are enhanced by Zapico's line drawings and comic book drawings.
This is an honest look at the topsy turvy life of a literary genius.
Sep 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography, comic
What a great read. I enjoyed learning more about Joyce and the times he lived in. A wonderful quick read about a difficult time in history.
Now, I feel ready to tackle Ulysses, maybe even Finnegans Wake.
Melissa Forehand
James Joyce

Interesting to see how Joyce’s life intercepted with history and other historical figures. But not much character development. He was kind of an ass. And it seemed his only life long attachments seemed to be with Nora and his children.
Jul 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, biography
This was very fun to read. The writing was nothing special, but the illustrations were great. Interesting to learn there were so many parallels between Joyce's life and details / episodes of Ulysses.
Nov 25, 2017 rated it liked it
wow I had no idea Joyce was such a prick.
Aug 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
A really well done, beautifully drawn graphic biography. Recommended for newbie Joyceans who want to get the lay of the land.
I read this to be inspired to read Finnegan's Wake or Ulysses. Didn't work. They both sound like I would have to work too hard. I am glad to know a little more about him, and it is a quick read.
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Nacido en Blimea, un pueblo de los Valles Mineros asturianos, Alfonso Zapico es diplomado en Ilustración y Diseño por la Escuela de Arte de Oviedo. Como freelance realiza trabajos gráficos de carácter infantil/juvenil para editoriales nacionales y regionales (libros de texto, dibujos animados, páginas web, ilustraciones…), y ejerce de ilustrador en un proyecto de la Consejería de Educación del Pri ...more

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