Paul Bryant'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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Sep 25, 2007

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bookshelves: 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 gobshite and pannel the wee dodger.

STEPHEN : Not so wee, he’s six foot if he’s an inch.

BUCK shoves him in the ring. HOLDEN CAULFIELD eyes STEPHEN miserably. His psychiatrist has explained that contests of physical strength and agility will raise his spirits and shake him out of his depressive spiral. He can’t say that he gives a rat’s ass about the whole thing. In fact he’d rather be pretty much anywhere but here.

THE REF pockets a tenner secreted insouciantly to him by stately, plump BUCK MULLIGAN.

BUCK : And another where that came from.

REF : Seconds away, Round One.

STEPHEN closes his eyes and walks vaguely about the ring, ashplant dangling from limp left hand. You are walking through it howsomever. I am, a stride at a time. A very short space of time through very short times of space. Five, six: the nacheinander. Exactly: and that is the ineluctable modality of the audible. Open your eyes. No. Jesus! If I fell over a cliff that beetles o'er his base, fell through the nebeneinander ineluctably. I am getting on nicely in the dark. My ash sword hangs at my side. Tap with it: they do. WHAM !

HOLDEN has been thinking he may as well get this feeble thing over and done with as quickly as possible and he has strode up and flailed – there is really no other word - a long thin arm vaguely in STEPHEN’S direction. More by luck than judgement he connects with STEPHEN’s bullockbefriending ear which then commences issuing gouts of redblooded blood.

STEPHEN (Throws up his hands.) O, this is too monotonous! His lips lipped and mouthed fleshless lips of air: mouth to her womb. Oomb, allwombing tomb. His mouth moulded issuing breath, unspeeched: ooeeehah: roar of cataractic planets, globed, blazing, roaring wayawayawayawayawayaway.

REF issues a standing count : A one. A two. A three.

HOLDEN sits down, scratches his private parts and produces a cigarette. lights it and sneers at the crowd.

REF : A four. A five.

HOLDEN : What a bunch of phonies.

CISSEY CAFFREY : Who are you callin a phoney and what kind of accent do you call that anyway? Is he an American? O Lor, he is as well. And aren’t they all rich? So they are. Here what’s your name darlin? You look awfy young to me.

HOLDEN : Well I act quite young for my age sometimes. It's really ironical, because I'm six foot two and a half and I have gray hair. I really do. The one side of my head--the right side--is full of millions of gray hairs. I've had them ever since I was a kid. And yet I still act sometimes like I was only about twelve. Everybody says that, especially my father. It's partly true, too, but it isn't all true. People always think something's all true. I don't give a damn, except that I get bored sometimes when people tell me to act my age. Sometimes I act a lot older than I am--I really do--but people never notice it. People never notice WHAMBLAM! Ooof! Shit!

STEPHEN has roused himself from his solipsistic torpor and delivered a mighty blow to HOLDEN’S temple with the ash plant.

ASHPLANT : Jaysus, I felt that!

REF : Hey, back in your corner you holy terror, this is Marquis of Queensbury rules! No ashplants! I’m going to have to disqualify you forthwith! So I am!

BUCK MULLIGAN waves another tenner in his purview.

REF : If you do it again!

STEPHEN, disgusted with his actions, throws his ashplant out of the ring. It is deftly caught by LEOPOLD BLOOM , an all round decent fellow with a really plumpacious sexy milf of a wife with tremendous bazooms. Let me tell you. In fact did I ever mention that one time me and her were DING DING!

End of round one.

STEPHEN limps over to the prone form of his lanky young opponent. He rouses him, pats him down, hauls him to his feel, and apologises. By the time HOLDEN's vision clears he finds he's been propped in his seat and a beer is in his hand, proffered by the gay crowd whose relish of the contest appears to know no bounds.

LEOPOLD BLOOM pokes his head into the proceedings.

BLOOM : You know, lads, this isn't the way. life doesn't have to be all about biff bang pow and the best man wins and all. let's go down the pub.

Exeunt BLOOM, HOLDEN AND STEPHEN in the direction of the Butcher's Arms Public House.

BUCK MULLIGAN : Dedalus wins on a TKO!

CROWD : Did he bollocks!

General melee ensues.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
September 25, 2007 – Shelved
December 16, 2007 – Shelved as: novels
December 20, 2007 – Shelved as: joyce

Comments (showing 1-8 of 8) (8 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

Meredith Holley This was rigged.

Paul Bryant The whole thing was fixed. But at least they ended up in a pub together, unlike Andrea Dworkin and T S Eliot.

message 3: by Paul (last edited Nov 09, 2010 04:29PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul Bryant Well, in the Celebrity Death Match, Dworkin sliced the old antisemitic misogynist into four quartets. Very appropriately, I thought. So I thought Stephen and Holden ended up okay. They'd both probably be quite tedious to go drinking with, but at least no one died.

message 4: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian "Marvin" Graye I wonder if John Irving would play the Ref in the film of this review?

Paul Bryant St Simon Stylites would be a more interesting choice.

message 6: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian "Marvin" Graye Paul wrote: "St Simon Stylites would be a more interesting choice."

I'll have to investigate this casting decision. Irving was more of a wrestler than a boxer.

message 7: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian "Marvin" Graye If this is an old review, I have re-liked it. My old like seems to have disappeared. (This seems to have occurred a lot lately, unless it has something to do with going back to a page - GR or Chrome seems to take you back to the cached page and it doesn't show the like.)

message 8: by I. (new)

I. good matchup, I would watch

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