A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

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I honestly have no idea how to write this review. Which is why part of me is surprised I’m evening attempting, but I figured I’d give it a shot.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce follows Stephen Dedalus, a young man growing up in Dublin, through his college career. And by college he really means around high school. This book is written similarly to Virginia Woolf’s The Waves. It’s very stream of consciousness, jumping from present thoughts to past experiences at the drop of a hat and to the point where if you aren’t fully paying attention it’s easy to get confused.

The summary on the back of the book says that this book “provides an oblique self-portrait of the young James Joyce”, which does make sense. Stephen grows up in an Irish family going to a Christian college and eventually contemplates leaving Dublin to focus on his writing. He deals with stresses of life that many teenagers and young adults deal with, such as unfulfilled sexual urges, questions of religion and faith, and trying to find where you fit in the world while trying to please others and yourself at the same time.

My problem was that I just couldn’t get along with Stephen. First he acts holier than thou and then, when he gets more confidence, he ends up acting like a know-it-all. Every milestone in his life I just clashed with him and couldn’t really connect with him. I also felt that the novel was very thick to go through. Several times I caught myself nodding off. Not saying that it was a terrible book or anything. Definitely well written, but definitely a book that I needed to be wide awake to read.

Grade: B

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