This is an ongoing series looking at books that have influenced one fantasy author.
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
by James Joyce
I’ll tell the truth: Not all of this novel is exciting stuff. A lot of it is stream-of-consciousness writing that seems to meander about before getting to any kind of a point.
But that’s intentional. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is a semi-autobiographical tale of a young Irish writer from his childhood to his early adult years in the early 20th century. This young man is working out his own belief system, his own philosophy and thoughts about religion and artistry, and rarely does such a thought process occur directly and expediently.
Thus, the rambling text.
But that’s not to say there’s nothing of import to be found here. If nothing else, this short novel shows the budding work of James Joyce as he builds his writing strengths and style that will eventually become more apparent in his longer, better knows works, Ulysses and Finnegan’s Wake.
Besides that, for a writer, there is much to learn within this book. Of the handful of stream-of-consciousness readings I’ve experienced over the years, this one is by far the best. Even though the story meanders here and there and all over the place, a writer can follow Joyce’s thought process and how he eventually gets to his own viewpoints and ideas.
I’ve had a few literary ideas for novels in which I did not know how to tell the tale properly, but Joyce has provided a guideline for me through this particular book. I have that to be thankful for, at least if I can ever get around to writing those literary novels.
Up next: The Prince