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29 December 1916
Stephen Dedalus, Simon Dedalus, Mary Dedalus, Charles Stewart Parnell, Cranly, Dante (Mrs. Riordan), Lynch
29 December 1916, by James Joyce
The novel traces the religious and intellectual awakening of young Stephen Dedalus, Joyce's fictional alter ego, whose surname alludes to Daedalus, Greek mythology's consummate craftsman. Stephen questions and rebels against the Catholic and Irish conventions under which he has grown, culminating in his self-exile from Ireland to Europe.
As a narrative which depicts a character throughout his formative years, identity is possibly the most prevalent theme in the novel. Other important themes include religion, myth of Daedalus, and Irish identity.
Stephen Dedalus, Simon Dedalus, Mary Dedalus, Emma Clery, Charles Stewart Parnell, Cranly, Dante, Lynch
The novel is a Bildungsroman and captures the essence of character growth and understanding of the world around him. The novel mixes third-person narrative with free indirect speech, which allows both identification with and distance from Stephen. The style of the work progresses through each of its five chapters, as the complexity of language and Stephen's ability to comprehend the world around him both gradually increase.
A Portrait won Joyce a reputation for his literary skills, as well as a patron, Harriet Shaw Weaver, the business manager of The Egoist. In 1917 H. G. Wells wrote that "one believes in Stephen Dedalus as one believes in few characters in fiction," while warning readers of Joyce's "cloacal obsession," his insistence on the portrayal of bodily functions that Victorian morality had banished from print.
“He wanted to cry quietly but not for himself: for the words, so beautiful and sad, like music.”
“The object of the artist is the creation of the beautiful. What the beautiful is is another question.”
“You can still die when the sun is shining.”
“Art is the human disposition of sensible or intelligible matter for an esthetic end.”