A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

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A Portrait of The Artist as a Young Man was published in book form in 1916. It is an autobiographical coming-of-age novel written by James Joyce. The novel was first serialized in the Egoist between 1914-1915. The story centers around the growth and education of Stephen Dedalus. Dedalus is considered to be the alter ego of James Joyce. The character of Stephen Dedalus is named after the Grecian mythological craftsman Daedalus. Portrait is considered to be a prime example of the Kunstlerroman in the English Literature. Portrait is set in Ireland, in particular Dublin. The book deals with many Irish issues like the quest for autonomy and the role of the Catholic church.


James joyce

Portrait pioneers some of Joyce’s modernist techniques that would later find there way in his later novels like Ulysses and Finnegan’s Wake. Portrait is a rewritten story from an earlier story of Joyce titled Stephen Hero. Joyce had written the story in 1905, and grew frustrated with the story. A great deal of Stephen Hero found its way into Portrait, sometimes unchanged. In Stephen Hero several of Stephen Dedalus siblings were prominent but in Portrait completely absent. However, the tone in Portrait and Stephen Hero are very different. The change of tone in Portrait allowed Joyce to exclusively focus on the perspective of Stephen Dedalus. The incomplete first draft of Stephen Hero was published post-humorously in 1944.


  • In Portrait Joyce is tracing the intellectual and religio-philosophical awakening of young Stephen Dedalus.
  • Joyce uses a stream of consciousness style that reflects what Dedalus is thinking.
  • As Dedalus goes from a young child to a man in the book, he starts to question and rebel against his Catholicism and the Irish conventions he was brought up in.
  • At the end of the book Stephen leaves for Paris to follow his calling as an artist.


The style of the book differs in each of its five sections as the protagonist, Dedalus, goes from a young child to a man. As Dedalus ages the complexity and vocabulary of the novel gradually increases.

  • Joyce chose to write the novel’s narrative is mostly written in the third person.
  • At the end of Portrait the books dialogue and journal entries, written by Stephen are to help show his alienation from society.

The title

The title of the book has been plagiarized and been parodied by many writers. These include: Charles Perry Portrait of a Young Man Drowning. Dylan Thomas Portrait of the Artist as Young Dog. Joseph Heller A Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man. Andrew Barlow and Kent Roberts A Portrait of Yo Mama as a Young Man.