Monday, 9 March 2009

"The Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man" By James Joyce

A mouthful, the title. And a handful, the book itself.
From being a baby till around twenty years old, give or take, Joyce has written semi-autobiographically about an artist: Stephen Dedalus. Not only more sensitive to words, colours, and the world in general, Stephen notices things nobody else does. He feels physically weaker, yet mentally stronger. "They don't understand" is a recurrent theme throughout.
There are five chapters, sometimes rapidly, sometimes slowly watching little Stephen grow up.
Not, like traditional novels, in third person, objectively, or even in first person, but basically Joyce shows us the inside of Stephen's mind. What he thinks, why he thinks it.

Personally, I enjoyed the book up to the fifth (and last) chapter. I happened to have read the first page for our translation three years ago, and I found it silly, it made no sense whatsoever. Now, in content, reading the same page, it is brilliant. It portrayed the inside of a baby's mind, much more so than anyone else ever could. The fifth chapter however, is confusing, full of philosophical ideas he does not even bother to explain further, as he jumps from one idea to the other and back again, making no sense unless you're interested in the exact same ideas.
Glad I finished it.

The Gypsy.

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