His family name is derived from a Greek craftsman who created the Labyrinth and designed wings for himself and his son to fly away from the island they were imprisoned in. But Stephen Dedalus, the young hero of James Joyce's first novel, is a young man who rises above his baser instincts and seeks a life devoted to the arts.
This quintessential coming of age novel describes the early life of Stephen Dedalus. It is set in Ireland during the nineteenth century which was a time of emerging Irish nationalism and conservative Catholicism. Highly autobiographical in nature, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man draws heavily on real events and characters from Joyce's own life, though he adopts an ironical and often satirical tone. The book is also notable for its being the first one in which Joyce uses innovative "Stream of Consciousness" writing style.
A Portrait... follows Stephen Dedalus from his babyhood into early adulthood. One of the most remarkable things about Joyce's style is that the early chapters are expressed in child like language. For instance, the famous opening lines of the book are, "Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down the road...." These are lines from a story that Stephen's father tells him as a baby. The final lines "Welcome, O Life! I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience..."
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About the Author
James Joyce was an Irish novelist, short story writer, poet, teacher, and literary critic. He contributed to the modernist avant-garde movement and is regarded as one of the most influential and important writers of the 20th century. Joyce is best known for Ulysses (1922), a landmark work in which the episodes of Homer's Odyssey are paralleled in a variety of literary styles, most famously stream of consciousness. Other well-known works are the short-story collection Dubliners (1914), and the novels A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916) and Finnegans Wake (1939). His other writings include three books of poetry, a play, his published letters and occasional journalism.