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Extended Audio Sample A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, by James Joyce Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.6 out of 53.6 out of 53.6 out of 53.6 out of 53.6 out of 5 3.60 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: James Joyce Narrator: John Lee Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is a semi-autobiographical novel by James Joyce, ranked the third greatest novel in the English language for the 20th century, by Modern Library.

Stephen Dedalus is essentially the alter-ego of Joyce, and this tale is of his coming of age, where the realizations both intellectual and spiritual are detailed. It is set against the framework of Irish Catholicism of his childhood. Dedalus, embarks on a journey to nurture his artistic ambitions. This is a third-person narrative without much dialogue, and progresses in complexity of language with each chapter, a reflection of the maturing and development of Dedalus' consciousness. Some scenes are longer than others, particularly when the state of mind of Dedalus is meant to be captured.

It is set in Dublin, and deals with issues such as independence from religion, and specifically from the Catholic Church. The use of the name Dedalus is an allusion to the Greek myth of Daedalus and Icarus, where Daedalus is an architect and inventor who becomes trapped in a labyrinth of his own construction and fashions wings for escape out of feathers and wax.

James Joyce, born in the mid 1800s, was both novelist and poet and was famous for his use of stream-of-consciousness style writing in Ulysses. He is considered one of the preeminent modern avant-garde writers, also famous for the Dubliners and Finnegan's Wake. He once stated that all his writing was essentially about the city of Dublin, for if he could get to the heart of Dublin, he could get to the heart of any city in the world.

Perhaps James Joyce’s most personal work, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man depicts the intellectual awakening of one of literature’s most memorable young heroes, Stephen Dedalus. Through a series of brilliant epiphanies that parallel the development of his own aesthetic consciousness, Joyce evokes Stephen’s youth, from his impressionable years as the youngest student at the Clongowed Wood school to the deep religious conflict he experiences at a day school in Dublin, and finally to his college studies, where he challenges the conventions of his upbringing and his understanding of faith and intellectual freedom. Joyce’s highly autobiographical novel was first published in the United States in 1916 to immediate acclaim. Ezra Pound accurately predicted that Joyce’s book would “remain a permanent part of English literature,” while H. G. Wells dubbed it “by far the most important living and convincing picture that exists of an Irish Catholic upbringing.” 

A remarkably rich study of a developing young mind, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man made an indelible mark on literature and confirmed Joyce’s reputation as one of the world’s greatest and lasting writers.

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Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Sarah | 2/20/2014

    " Mixed feelings. Hated it when I read it on my own, but enjoyed reading it for a class. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Heather | 2/15/2014

    " The writing is deep and descriptive. Unfortunately for me, I was reading it online and reading a computer screen versus reading a physical book is just not the same for me. I tend to lose some of the significance when I scroll. Therefore, while I recognize the work this book is, I didnt really enjoy that much. But then again, I didn't really get Dubliners either so I guess I'm just not a Joyce fan. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Ignacio Luna | 1/29/2014

    " The book not only has a great composition and style, rich with prose and that wonderful gradual change in style, but the well timed series of events and personal feel to it make the book leave one with a romantic and uplifted feeling. I would recommend it to any aspiring writer. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Boris Van | 1/27/2014

    " The poetic Joyce is never so clearly shown as IT is in this work, all the sentences are just woven together by rhythm and form. This is is the reason why I recommend it as a first read of a work by Joyce. however, the very basics of this book are quite fragile. Literature is about form but in the first place, it is about a story. And the most fundamental part of a story are its characters. That is the short-coming of this book, and the reason why it isnt as transcendental as Dubliners or Ulysses. Stephen is just an arrogant prick. It's true. he disrespects his family, his country and his peers but still he is dependent of them. The lack of other themes than Dedalus' becoming of an artist and the endless self-love by Joyce drag this work down. Dont get me wrong, it is still a very good read, but is misses a deeper feeling, which was present in Joyce's other works. "

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