A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
First published in 1916, "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" is James Joyce’s first novel and a milestone of modern literary history. It is the origin of many of the post-modern techniques he refined in later works such as "Finnegans Wake" and "Ulysses".
The novel describes the emotional and mental development of the main protagonist, Stephen Dedalus, from childhood to independent artist.
Stephen grows up in the deeply nationalistic and religious culture of Ireland. During his time at Jesuit schools and university, he struggles to find his own identity and break free of the culture of his childhood. He eventually leaves the church, university, his parents and his country in order to find his true self.
The novel is strongly autobiographical, Stephen’s development and experiences are, to a large extent, similar to Joyce’s own.
On the other hand, the style develops in line with the character. While, initially, the language is childish and naïve, it changes to increasingly academic and intellectual the older Stephen gets.