'Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man' Appears in 'The Egoist' Magazine

The distinctive characteristic of Joyce’s storytelling is his attempt to represent each stage of the boy’s developing consciousness in the language through which the child himself perceives the world.

Thus, the narrative itself demonstrates the artist’s exploration of language. On the opening page, the novel relates the child’s impressions of hearing a fairy tale and wetting the bed: “When you wet the bed first it is warm then it gets cold. His mother put on the oilsheet. That had the queer smell.” As the novel progresses, Stephen continually meditates on sights, sounds, smells, and especially words: green, maroon, suck, queer, Dolan, Heron, foetus, sin, home, Christ, ale, master, tundish, esthetic, lyrical, epical, dramatic.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is a semi-autobiographical novel by James Joyce, first serialised in The Egoist from 1914 to 1915 and published in book form in 1916. It depicts the formative years in the life of Stephen Dedalus, a fictional alter ego of Joyce and a pointed allusion to the consummate craftsman of Greek mythology, Daedalus.

A Portrait is a key example of the Künstlerroman (an artist's Bildungsroman) in English literature. Joyce's novel traces the intellectual and religio-philosophical awakening of young Stephen Dedalus as he begins to question and rebel against the Catholic and Irish conventions in which he has been raised. He finally leaves for abroad to pursue his calling as an artist. The work pioneers some of Joyce's modernist techniques that would later come to fruition in Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. The novel, which has had a "huge influence on novelists across the world", was ranked by Modern Library as the third greatest English-language novel of the 20th century.

Portrait is a complete rewrite of his earlier attempt at the story Stephen Hero, with which he grew frustrated in 1905. Large portions of Stephen Hero found their way, sometimes nearly unchanged, into Portrait, but the tone was changed considerably in order to focus more exclusively on the perspective of Stephen Dedalus. For instance, several of his siblings made prominent appearances in the earlier novel, but are almost completely absent in Portrait. The incomplete first draft of Stephen Hero was published posthumously in 1944.