Sunday, 17 January 2016

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

This  novel by James Joyce  is the story of his adolescence and youth.      When Stephen  suddenly understands "the essential nature of a thing"- whether it is the understanding of a person, an idea, a word ,or a situation- he calls these moments epiphanies. Some of his earliest epiphanies come from  his acute sensory awareness Repeatedly , we find the remembrances of tastes ,touches and smells.
                     As he grows up,Stephen Dedalus (the protagonist) grapples with his nationality, religion, family and morality , and finally  decides to reject  all socially imposed bonds and instead  live freely as  an  artist.
           Stephen has an obsession with language.His dedication to forging an aesthetic of his own describe many  tensions in his life during his formative years. 
               When he faces the decision to join the priesthood,Stephen decides that he is not cut out for monastic life.At this moment ,he turns away from religion in general and hopes to go to a university.The end of chapter four is one of the most famous  moments in the book when Stephen goes to the river and sees a beautiful  young  girl.She reminds him of a wild  seabird.He is astounded by the beauty of the moment and chooses to devote his life to creating art.He comes to realise that before he can become a true artist, he must rid himself of the stultifying effects of the religion,politics and bigotry of his background in Ireland.I shall express myself as I am.
        Joyce quotes  the poem "The Moon" by Shelley, twice in the book:
" Art thou pale for weariness,
Of climbing heaven and gazing on the  earth,
Wandering companion less,
Among the stars that have a different birth,
And ever changing like a joyless eye
That finds no object worth its constancy."
In the last chapter , we find him working hard and doing considerable sacrifice.He struggles daily to puzzle out his aesthetic philosophy.
         The novel describes vividly Joyce's own  discovery  of his true calling as an artist , at a very young age  , after passing through many stages of struggle.Many of us  reach this stage very late in life.This book can help the  reader to understand the process by which he/she can reach his/her true calling.I recommend you to read this book.