A review of "The Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man", by James Joice. 778 words.

Essay by sophia_lispectatorUniversity, Bachelor's July 2003

download word file, 3 pages 4.4 1 reviews

Downloaded 77 times


Considering the fact that the Portrait is a writing of a sort that the early reviewers had not encountered before it is understandable that Joyce was not praised by the critics while alive. Recognising the literary greatness of this novel seemed an almost impossible task at the time of its publishing. In a reader's report for the publisher Duckworth & Company, one of the reviewers called Garnett admits that the book is "ably written" but needs revision because it is too "discursive, formless, unrestrained, and ugly things, ugly words, are too prominent." The novel is too "unconventional," Garnett asserts, and "unless the author will use restraint and proportion he will not gain readers". In contrast, Ezra Pound found the Portrait well written and rare among the novels in the English Literature. In his review in The Egoist he stated that Joyce had produced the nearest thing to Flaubertian prose that had ever been written in the English language.

On the other hand, despite the fact that he vociferously praised the book's value, Pound had nothing to say about the novel's content. In spite of the confusion it caused at the time of its publishing, four decades after Joyce's death more than 7,500 studies of the novel were published.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is a Künstlerroman, i.e. a novel that follows the life of an individual who wants to achieve greatness and refuses to accept the commonplace life. It is a story about Stephen Dedalus and his three early life crisis, which divide the novel into three parts. First one describes the hero's childhood, his first days at school, his maturing, the development of religious doubts and awakening of strong but forbidden sexual desire.