A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is the first novel of Irish writer James Joyce. A Künstlerroman written in a modernist style, it traces the religious and intellectual awakening of young Stephen Dedalus, Joyce’s fictional alter ego, whose surname alludes to Daedalus, Greek mythology’s consummate craftsman. Stephen questions and rebels against the Catholic and Irish conventions under which he has grown, culminating in his self-exile from Ireland to Europe. The work uses techniques that Joyce developed more fully in Ulysses (1922) and Finnegans Wake (1939). A Portrait began life in 1904 as Stephen Hero—a projected 63-chapter autobiographical novel in a realistic style. After 25 chapters, Joyce abandoned Stephen Hero in 1907 and set to reworking its themes and protagonist into a condensed five-chapter novel, dispensing with strict realism and making extensive use of free indirect speech that allows the reader to peer into Stephen’s developing consciousness.
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Joyce’s classic depiction of Stephen Dedalus’s boyhood and coming of age in Ireland at the turn of the century, his childhood, sexual awakening, intellectual development and revolt against Catholicism, remains one of the key works of modern literature.