Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

I read this via DailyLit for my book group (Questioning the Canon), which will be meeting tomorrow night.

This book was a really tough one for me to get through. I’m glad that I read it 3-4 sections at a time. As I finished each chapter, I found that I had to go consult SparkNotes in order to make sure I’d truly understood the gist; their analysis helped, too.

I’m not sure what it was about the book that made it so…sluggish. It was difficult for me to feel the sense of place and time. The combination of third-person persepective and stream-of-conscious voice messed with my head for the first few parts.

[originally published 4/18/07 at 43Things for the 100 Books in 2007 goal]


Petunia said...

I just bought this book recently but your review has scared me a little. It was on my TBR list but not the list that wants to be read VERY soon so I guess it will be okay. At least now I'll know to hunker down for a stream-of-conscience ride. Thanks.

Marina said...

Oh, dear...I didn't mean to scare anyone off!

I should have given the "I'm no intellectual powerhouse" disclaimer right up front on this one. I'll admit that I'm very much out of practice with literary criticism (that's what you do in college with the classics, right?).

Do take advantage of the SparkNotes guide, and read Joyce's background on Wikipedia (or other trusted source).

Literacy-chic said...

Interesting name for a reading group! (Are you sure you're not an English department in disguise? ;) There's very little that's canonical happening in English departments these days!)

I actually put Portrait of the Artist on my PhD reading list as the least difficult Joyce novel, since I had to have a minimal amount of Joyce. I found it frustrating on a second read because Stephen Daedalus was just such an arrogant little snot. I liked him when I was in high school! ;) If you want to read Joyce at his best, I would definitely suggest Dubliners (as a whole, not parts--the effect just isn't the same). The continuity of theme is beautiful. And many of the stories are just exquisite.