A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is James Joyce's first novel, first published in bookform in 1916. The novel is a semi-autobiographical story of a young Irish boy who struggles with family, country, and religion to become an artist and a man.
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man traces the early life of Stephen Dedalus and his inner struggle with the oppression of Irish society and the Catholic church, ending with his awakening as a poet and writer and self-imposed exile from Ireland.
A Künstlerroman in a modernist style, it traces the religious and intellectual awakening of 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. In the work Joyce makes extensive use of free indirect speech that allows the reader to peer into Stephen's developing consciousness
“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.” (quote)
The publication of A Portrait and the short story collection Dubliners (1914) earned Joyce a place at the forefront of literary modernism.
In 1998, the Modern Library named the novel third on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.
James Joyce (1882-1941) was an Irish novelist and poet, considered to be one of the most influential writers in the modernist avant-garde of the early 20th century.
Joyce is best known for Ulysses (1922), a landmark work in which the episodes of Homer's Odyssey are paralleled in an array of contrasting literary styles, perhaps most prominent among these the stream of consciousness technique he perfected. Other major 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).