Review: A Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man

A Portrait of the Artist As a Young ManA Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man by James Joyce

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I’ll get straight to the point: Never in my life have I found a book to be such hard work to read.

I can’t even remember the amount of times I wanted to give up and stop reading this book. If I hadn’t been so determined to finish it, the chances are that I would have dropped this book somewhere around chapter 1. Not only does it have a 15 page introduction written purely to apply a little background and to introduce the story, but it also has a 42 page ‘Notes to the Text’ index which references all the language which is either completely removed from general use and the common vernacular or written in Latin. That’s right, this book has A 42 page explanation as to why you’re unable to understand it. I’d compare the whole experience to going back-to-school; but my school chose far more interesting books.

So what’s the story? Basically, it’s a coming of age tale about a young Irish Catholic boy named Stephen Dedalus (supposedly Joyce’s literary alter ego) who battles with a crisis of faith and strives to become an artist. And yes, It’s as dull as it sounds.

For me, when I read books, watch movies or lay on my bed and listen to music, It’s all about escapism. I do it for enjoyment. When I have to work this hard to read a book, it stops being fun. It took me almost a month to complete this book, and as a person who would consider himself reasonably well read, that’s quite embarrassing, especially when you consider I managed ‘The hunger games’ (a book almost double the size) in a matter of hours. It’s certainly not a page turner.

In all fairness, I’m not saying James Joyce isn’t a good writer, far from it, the man really knew how to write, and at points I couldn’t help but admire the elegance and beauty of his overly descriptive prose. Joyce’s problem was forgetting to include a coherent and interesting story somewhere in-between pages and pages of vacuous uninteresting drivel. This has got to be the worlds most boring semi-autobiographical tale – written in a half dead language about a man who wasn’t all that exciting. In fact, I think the most interesting parts of this book were those that dealt with abstract concepts such as heaven and hell or when Dedalus himself acquires a taste for ‘ladies of the night’.

If you’re thinking about reading this book, I won’t try and stop you, but don’t say you weren’t warned.

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About Ryan

This site is intended as a dumping ground for my interests and thoughts, but above all it's a here to record my progress on my ever expanding list of life goals. I want to impove myself, to learn new things, to see the world and to experience everything I possibly can. It's a simple goal which has led me half way around the world and given me some amazing memories to keep, stories to tell and friends to cherish. I try to enjoy my life as much as anyone can and I record these memories and thoughts for my own purposes, but the hope is to inspire.
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