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A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Dubliners (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Dubliners (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

3.7 70
by James Joyce, Kevin J.H. Dettmar

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A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Dubliners, by James Joyce, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable


A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Dubliners, by James Joyce, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:

  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.
Widely regarded as the greatest stylist of twentieth-century English literature, James Joyce deserves the term “revolutionary.” His literary experiments in form and structure, language and content, signaled the modernist movement and continue to influence writers today. His two earliest, and perhaps most accessible, successes—A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Dubliners—are here brought together in one volume. Both works reflect Joyce’s lifelong love-hate relationship with Dublin and the Irish culture that formed him.

In the semi-autobiographical Portrait, young Stephen Dedalus yearns to be an artist, but first must struggle against the forces of church, school, and society, which fetter his imagination and stifle his soul. The book’s inventive style is apparent from its opening pages, a record of an infant’s impressions of the world around him—and one of the first examples of the “stream of consciousness” technique.

Comprising fifteen stories, Dubliners presents a community of mesmerizing, humorous, and haunting characters—a group portrait. The interactions among them form one long meditation on the human condition, culminating with “The Dead,” one of Joyce’s most graceful compositions centering around a character’s epiphany. A carefully woven tapestry of Dublin life at the turn of the last century, Dubliners realizes Joyce’s ambition to give his countrymen “one good look at themselves.”

Kevin J. H. Dettmar is Professor of English and Cultural Studies at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He is the author or editor of a half-dozen books on James Joyce, modernist literature, and rock music. He is currently finishing a term as President of the Modernist Studies Association.

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From Kevin J. H. Dettmar’s Introduction to A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Dubliners

Though written very nearly in tandem, Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man have very different agendas, and represent very different reading experiences, as well. We might, for purposes of illustration, think of Joyce’s first two works of fiction as representing critiques of two rather different literary genres: Dubliners, a critique of the short story as Joyce had inherited it, in which complicated psychological struggles are simplified and resolved in the course of three thousand words; and Portrait, a critique of the deeply romantic legacy of the Bildungsroman (novel of education and maturation) and its close relative the Kunstlerroman (which focuses on the development of the artist), forms that perpetuated a notion of heroism wholly unsuited to the realities of life and art in the twentieth century.

If early readers and critics of Dubliners were taken aback by Joyce’s unflinching reportage of the sordid details of modern urban life, contemporary readers are more often struck by the stories’ very abrupt endings: Time and again they seem merely to stop, dead in their tracks, rather than properly ending. The first three stories, in this regard, are representative. “The Sisters” ends while one of the eponymous sisters is in mid-conversation, mid-sentence: “So then, of course, when they saw that, that made them think that there was something gone wrong with him. . . .” The ellipsis that closes the story is just one of twenty sets in this very elliptical three-thousand-word story, in which meaning seems to lie just behind the words, in between the words, peeking out at us but ultimately eluding us. At the close of the second story, “An Encounter,” our narrator calls for help to his friend Mahoney, but this message is relayed along with confession of a sin we cannot understand, or even guess at: “And I was penitent; for in my heart I had always despised him a little.” Hence, rather than the sort of closure a short story is supposed to provide, “An Encounter” opens up, vertiginously, on a host of other issues just when it should be shutting down new possibilities. The beautifully lyrical ending of “Araby” has been much analyzed, and to read the criticism, one would think that there’s nothing at all out of the way about the narrator’s sudden outburst in his closing sentence: “Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger.” What—? Revelation, it seems, arrives from out of the blue (or black), but we readers can neither see it coming nor figure out with any certainty whither it will lead our protagonist.

These three stories—and many others in the collection besides, including “Eveline,” “Two Gallants,” “The Boarding House,” “Clay,” “A Painful Case,” “Ivy Day in the Committee Room,” and “The Dead”—focus on the moment of sudden revelation that Joyce called, after the traditions of the Catholic Church, an “epiphany.” A full description of the epiphany is one of the elements that Joyce stripped out of Stephen Hero in making Portrait; if we turn back to that earlier text, however, we discover the following explanation of the place of the epiphany in Stephen Dedalus’s evolving aesthetic philosophy:

This triviality [of a banal conversation he has overheard] made him think of collecting many such moments together in a book of epiphanies. By an epiphany he meant a sudden spiritual manifestation, whether in the vulgarity of speech or of gesture or in a memorable phase of the mind itself. He believed that it was for the man of letters to record these epiphanies with extreme care, seeing that they themselves are the most delicate and evanescent of moments (James Joyce, Stephen Hero, edited by John J. Slocum and Herbert Cahoon, second edition, New York: New Directions, 1963, p. 211).

This insistence on the importance of the trivial plays throughout both Dubliners and Portrait; and a great deal of scholarly attention has been paid over the years to the concept of the epiphany. Without rehearsing in detail that voluminous scholarship, we might pause here to note that the terse description given in Stephen Hero describes a locus for the epiphany (in “everyday life”) and an agent of the epiphany (the writer); if much of public life consists of playing some kind of role, wearing a mask, an epiphany is one of those rare moments when the mask slips, and we see past convention, past language, and glimpse some fundamental truth about human nature. But the question of for whom the timeless human truth of the situation is suddenly made manifest, apart from the writer who records it, is left somewhat ambiguous.

Meet the Author

One of the 20th century's greatest writers, James Joyce was born in Dublin in 1882, and his native city is at the heart of his best-known books: Ulysses, Finnegans Wake, and the short story collection Dubliners. His flowing, sometimes musical, often challenging prose has provoked and inspired generations of readers. He died in 1941.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
February 2, 1882
Date of Death:
January 13, 1941
Place of Birth:
Dublin, Ireland
Place of Death:
Zurich, Switzerland
B.A., University College, Dublin, 1902

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Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Dubliners (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 70 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This handy Barnes and Noble edition collects two classic early works from James Joyce. Presented first, but released second in its final form, is PORTRAIT, an experimental and challenging (yet wholly worthwhile) autobiographical masterpiece about a young man who, throughout the early stages of his life, lets others speak for him (family, religion, etc.) until he finally releases the inner artist within. An inspiring work. Second is his short story collection DUBLINERS, which is striking because of how different the prose and literary technique is from PORTRAIT... Joyce would spend the rest of his career challenging and testing the limits of language, but the writing in DUBLINERS is eloquent, clear, immaculate. Two essential works from one of literature's undisputed giants. Wonderful stuff.
coffeephilosopher More than 1 year ago
Mainly because one cannot consider one's self well versed in the western canon without reading Joyce, along with Pound, Proust, Woolf, and Eliot, the high priests (and priestess) of high modernism. The stories in 'Dubliners' are easy to read (if often a bit of downer). In 'Portrait,' Joyce abandons Zola-esque naturalism for the beginnings of the style now associated with his writing. While I find the main character of 'Portrait' to be uninspiring (which is one reason why I prefer 'Ulysses' to it - Stephen has a much smaller role), but pay attention to how Joyce captures sensory perception and how he captures the experiences of the various ages of the main character. As a small child, the style reflects the limited understanding that a small child would have. As Stephen grows up, so does the writing. In his adolescence, the style reflects the overwrought sensibilities of a teenage boy with artistic pretensions. Read it. Please.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When you think James Joyce, think Shakespeare of prose. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is essentially an auto-biography of Joyce's life growing up in Dublin. Don't be surprised if you are reading the same paragraph 3 or more times over due to the 'stream of concious' technique Joyce applys to his story along with the along with his confusing, but beautiful prose, make this story about growing up, religion, and the makings of an artist(Joyce) an excellent read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book was great, I loved every story in it. However, it was so poorly edited that I was soon taken out of the book. In the Dubliners stories, it would appear that B&N decided to hire a 4-year old to edit them. All in all, good book with horrendous editing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In the early twentieth century Lenin wrote, ¿Down with literary supermen! Literature must become part of the common cause of the proletariat, `a cog and a screw¿ of one single great Social-Democratic mechanism set in motion by the entire politically conscious vanguard of the entire working class!¿ And so, the working class anti-hero was born. Achilles, Odysseus, Hector, and Priam are no where to be found among the modern writers human ideal. Myrmidons and Argonauts are not even contemplated. Schoolboys, AA members, political canvasers, and anxious housewives have become the 'new human ideal', and their everyday thoughts and desires become 'high literature'. Realism and base truths rule the day, and closure and the 'happy ending' are banished from the realm of possibility. Wonderfully written, Joyce captures the essence of great anti-literature and applies it to a subject totally unworthy of exposition. He allows his reader to experience the epiphanies of the base, and thereby acquire greater cynicsm and misanthropism. One might almost feel that he had 'learned' something, if the cause for 'revolution' lay not already within his heart. If Joyce weren't laughing AT his Dubliners, I doubt he would have written it. And if modern readers weren't as self-absorbed and wonderfully democratic, one wonders who would ever read it. It's no wonder that what modernism started with Joyce has culminated in Gangsta Rap Music, the 'new' Great Literature of the masses. Can 'art' be used to more destructive ends? Only time will tell.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
carlosmock More than 1 year ago
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce. This is Joyce's first book. It traces the religious and intellectual awakening of young Stephen Dedalus, a fictional alter ego of Joyce and an allusion to Daedalus, the consummate craftsman of Greek mythology. Stephen questions and rebels against the Catholic and Irish conventions under which he has grown, culminating in his self-exile from Ireland to Europe. The book is narrated from the third person point of view. The writing is archaic and difficult to follow. The book moves slowly and it traces the transformation of Joyce's alter ego - Stephen - from almost wanting to join the priesthood to completely negating the Catholic Church. Chapter one deals with the differences between being Catholic and Protestant in the Irish society. At a Christmas dinner at the family home - Simon Dedalus - Stephen's father has to referee between Dante - a strong Protestant woman, and John Casey - a strong Catholic man. References are made as to how the "Catholic bishops" sold the country to the British. Chapter III is filled with rantings about sin and guilt associated from it. Chapter IV brings Stephen to grace and wanting to discover whether he's suitable for priesthood. On Chapter V Stephen discovers carnal pleasure and rebels against the Church and most of what is Irish . I read the book out of a dare - having spent time in Ireland last year I was interested in reading about its greatest writers - but certainly would not read this for pleasure. It is tedious and boring...
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Certain sections suffer from spelling errors and other issues, otherwise good.
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twigtip More than 1 year ago
Both are great books, and milestones in 20th Century literature. A tad difficult at first, but once you get into them both are wholly engrossing.
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