My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man told us a story about and through the lens of an Irish boy, named Stephen Dedalus. It’s pretty much an autobiography of the adolescence life of Stephen Dedalus who would reappear in one of Joyce’s phenomenal work, Ulysses. Stephen Dedalus’ character, more or less, was based on Joyce himself as a lot of autobiographical details in Portrait matched with his life.
Some of the reviews I read protesting about the lack of time and place sequential description. As I read the book pages by pages, I come to this sense that time and place is an outer world and in this matter, they are less important than what’s going on in Dedalus’ mind. Joyce made a point through Dedalus.
– Yes, Stephen said, smiling in spite of himself at Cranly’s way of remembering thoughts in connexion with places
In other words, Portrait focused on psychological reality. This is the strongest point of this book. How Dedalus’ restless mind saw the world, wandered, stumbled upon nets of his family, politics, and religion, encountered what-so-called sin, felt impure and fear of hell and God, forced himself to display obedience to have his soul lifted up, but in the end he realized he was prisoner of culture and what the society expected him to be. This revelation came to him after he was being rewarded for his obedience. He imagined himself to be the most respectable figure but weary of obedience. Then he found what freed him the most, who he was, what he wanted to do, and for what he would stumble and fall.
As a young man, he saw through the world through the glasses of philosophers. Many of them were Catholic’s thinker and this was ‘normal’ because as a young man, he had not yet experienced life on his own. However, this book signified Dedalus’ departure from what had restrained him for most.
A well-written book, using magnificent and beautiful words, complex enough, profound, and daring in poetic way. I love love love this book and can’t wait to read Ulysses. Hope that I’ll find a copy in bookstores.
Regarding Joyce: is this a man whom Jung diagnosed as a ‘diving’ schizophrenics? He swam in the ‘yellow’ border of madness and achieved profoundness & beauty. ‘Yellow’ hell!
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I’ve found a new way
Well, I’ve found a new way, baby
Oh, oh then suddenly you know
You’re never going home…