Top critical review
3.0 out of 5 starsGood but sometimes slow
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on December 8, 2013
"Stephen watched the three glasses being raised from the counter as his father and his two cronies drank to the memory of their past . An abyss of fortune or of temperament sundered him from them. His mind seemed older than theirs: it shone coldly on their strifes and happiness and regrets like a moon upon a younger earth. No life or youth stirred in him as it had stirred in them. He had known neither the pleasure of companionship with others nor the vigour of rude male health nor filial piety. Nothing stirred within his soul but a cold and cruel and loveless lust. His childhood was dead or lost and with it his soul capable of simple joys and he was drifting amid life like the barren shell of the moon."
* Excellent and engaging writing
* Some parts can be quite interesting
* Nice look into how it was like to grow up around like 19th/early 20th century Ireland
* Some parts can be very boring and monotonous
* Very long chapters (only 6 in whole book)
* Not a book most people would want to read twice
* Author seems to often get distracted with things that, to me, seemed pointless (such as spending pages trying to guess how many birds are flying in the air)
"--Look here, Cranly, he said. You have asked me what I would do and what I would not do. I will tell you what I will do and what I will not do. I will not serve that in which I no longer believe, whether it call itself my home, my fatherland, or my church: and I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as I can, using for my defence the only arms I allow myself to use-- silence, exile, and cunning."
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is a semi-biographical novel by James Joyce that showcases his rise from a timid and pious young man to an intelligent, skeptical college student. His transformation is at time very interesting, such as his conversations and activities during school, and at other times very dull, such as him reminiscing about things that may only be important to him.
It is simply amazing how much Joyce remembers about his childhood and to the degree to which he remembers it. For examples, he provides a terrifying sermon about the horrors of the Christian Hell that goes on for nearly an entire chapter, a sermon which seemed to have left deep scars on his youth. (Luckily he was able to break free from this religious fear instilled upon him as a boy.) I particularly enjoyed him conversations with his classmates and his philosophical discussions. It is obvious that Joyce is extremely intelligent, from his numerous inclusions of people ranging from Aristotle and Plato to Praxiteles and Percy Shelley. Although the ride was at times very boring, I'd say completing the book was worth it, but I wouldn't be interested in a second reading, at least not for a while.
"What was after the universe? Nothing. But was there anything round the universe to show where it stopped before the nothing place began?"