Tara Calaby'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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bookshelves: 100-books, used-to-own

It turns out that Joyce and I are just not a good match. I am actually quite fond of the way that he uses language, but I am not a fan of the way he uses plot, character and structure. I was quite interested in the first third of the book, but then it reached the all-religion-all-the-time point and, although the language was quite gorgeous in parts, I found myself tuning out entirely because I just didn't care. And then the university section was a tiresome struggle to the finish.

So many reviews of this book seem to talk about it as though you can judge intellect by people's appreciation of a particular novel or author. It's like the reverse Dan Brown. It's also completely false logic. Taste and intelligence are not the same thing. You can "get" Joyce and still not enjoy him. I appreciate the innovations he made and the impact he has had on the modern novel. That doesn't necessarily mean I'm going to enjoy reading his work.

Just because something is a classic, people, that doesn't mean you have to like it! It certainly doesn't mean you should pretend to like it, for fear of being thought stupid if you admit that it wasn't your thing.

I didn't like this. I also didn't like Ulysses. If you didn't like them either, that's okay. You're no less of a reader, a literature lover or an intellect for it :)
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Reading Progress

January 14, 2013 – Shelved
January 14, 2013 –
page 18
7.11% "Because I am apparently a masochist. Although, to be fair, it's on my list of 100 books, so I had to read it at SOME point."
January 15, 2013 – Started Reading
January 24, 2013 –
page 95
37.55% "You know, this is a lot more readable than I was expecting. I'm not loving it, but I'm not hating it either. For Joyce, I think that's a win ;)"
January 30, 2013 –
page 187
73.91% "Getting there! It's hard going, though. There was a huge chunk about religion, and now there's talk of philosophy and neither are things that I enjoy reading about."
February 2, 2013 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by Tara (new) - added it

Tara Calaby Jeremy wrote: "It's fantastic, and the most accessable of the three greats..."

I got about at third of the way through Ulysses before giving up on it. I felt like I'd read enough to understand why it was an important work of literature, but it just didn't capture my interest enough to wade through hundreds of extra pages! I'm determined to finish this, though :)


message 2: by Tara (new) - added it

Tara Calaby Yes, it's definitely something that goes both ways. You have the people who believe that not liking a particular classic means that you're stupid, and the people who believe that their not liking a particular classic means it's stupid. Both are very limited ways of thinking :D


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