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




Review

“Welcome, O life! I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.”
To live, to err, to fall, to triumph, to recreate life out of life!”

Stephan Daedalus a recreating of character reinvented in modern times from one that came before, the name Daedalus an artificer in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, whom wanted also to escape restrains, when told by King Minos of Crete that he may not leave with his son the island, and so he made wax wings for him and his son Icarus to fly with but lead to the death off his son.  James Joyce refers to this in this passage

“..at the name of the fabulous artificer, he seemed to hear the noise of dim waves and to see a winged form flying above the waves and slowly climbing the air…a hawklike man flying sunward above the sea, a prophecy of the end he had been born to serve and had been following through the mists of childhood and boyhood, a symbol of the artist forging anew in his workshop out of the sluggish matter of the earth a new soaring impalpable imperishable being..”

And so we have Joyce intertwine tales of before because have not books been made from books?
Tragedies, Greek, Roman and Elizabethan, reinventing character and subject matter. Like that great novel of his Ulysses a great Labyrinth of a tale has Homer and Shakespeare in mind this has influence of Ovid, Don Quixote, and others, but of all else possible is his own self in the narrative thee one James Joyce forging in the smithy of your soul something grande.

James Joyce has you in the mind of a boy in a labyrinth and isolation finding his way to becoming the artist and the adult living the artist way.
Following Stephan, following The descriptions of  life in a Jesuit school, and later in a Dublin college, and then the maturer Stephan wondering the streets reflecting and in battle with beliefs on people and life like that of Ulysses, as he grasps what shadows him and what illuminates him, his aesthetic eye through the fruits and poisons of life, as he is put through experiences, impressions and emotions and the conflict he encounters and calling to paths, his conscious metamorphoses into a new self, the eventual unique self of Stephan of his own wanting, the individual spirit, the artist.
You have the main protagonist as the artist as a young man before you and then follow him on if you have not yet to Ulysses the novel where he is more learned in his Art, on more wonderings accompanied by the great Buck Mulligan.
The pen his armoury against the darkness and light rather than devotion to worship.
His mind ruminates with carefully sentences and paragraphs by a master of writing, that splendid Stream of conscious and interior monologue and a vivid, lucid, dreamlike haunting prose.



“The object of the artist is the creation of the beautiful. What the beautiful is is another question.”

“What you said, is it? Cranly asked. Yes, I remember it. To discover the mode of life or of art whereby your spirit could express itself in unfettered freedom.”
“A vague dissatisfaction grew up within him as he looked on the quays and on the river and on the lowering skies and yet he continued to wander up and down day after day as if he really sought someone that eluded him. He went once or twice with his mother to visit their relatives, and though they passed a jovial array of shops lit up and adorned for Christmas, his mood of embittered silence did not leave him. The causes of his embitterment were many, remote and near. He was angry with himself for being young and the prey of restless foolish impulses, angry also with the change of fortune which was reshaping the world about him into a vision of squalor and insincerity. Yet his anger lent nothing to the vision. He chronicled with patience what he saw, detaching himself from it and testing its mortifying flavor in secret.”

“He was destined to learn his own wisdom apart from others or to learn the wisdom of others himself wandering among the snares of the world. The snares of the world were its ways of sin. He would fall. He had not yet fallen but he would fall silently, in an instant. Not to fall was too hard, too hard, and he felt the silent lapse of his soul, as it would be at some instant to come, falling, falling, but not yet fallen, still unfallen, but about to fall.”

“The pride of that dim image brought back to his mind the dignity of the office he had refused. All through his boyhood he had mused upon that which he had so often thought to be his destiny and when the moment had come for him to obey the call he had turned aside, obeying a wayward instinct. Now time lay between: the oils of ordination would never anoint his body. He had refused. Why?”

“—You made me confess the fears that I have. But I will tell you also what I do not fear. I do not fear to be alone or to be spurned for another or to leave whatever I have to leave. And I am not afraid to make a mistake, even a great mistake, a lifelong mistake, and perhaps as long as eternity too.”

Reviewed by Lou Pendergrast on 08 May 2017