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Ch. 5 - A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

#122: July - Sept. 2013 (Fiction)
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Chris OConnor

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Ch. 5 - A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

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Ch. 5 - A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
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cmiller38
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Re: Ch. 5 - A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

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Just finished the book. I can't quite say I enjoyed it although I did enjoy certain parts of it and am glad I have read it overall. The Story is a bit weak as nothing really happens. I know it's a coming of age tale about and a crisis of identity with religious upbringing battling his natural urges. However the story never really went anywhere for me I enjoyed the first three chapters and particularly the Christmas dinner scene and the detailed descriptions of hell. Joyce's descriptive skills are amazing but I found the writing hard going at times and had to re-read sections. Overall I would give this book a 2 out of 5
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Re: Ch. 5 - A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

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Wow, you read fast.

I can't seem to get passed chapter 4. Although I do enjoy Joyce's style of writing, I find that I can only read little drops of this novel at a time. I think you once posted that Joyce's style is, "dense", this would be the correct word for it. The novel so far has surprised me, I envisioned something completely different. However, I am glad I am finally reading it, and I will finish it.

Thank you for your participation.
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Re: Ch. 5 - A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

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I'm starting to see 'Portait' as more of a autobiographical/philosophical work as opposed to a work of fiction. After The Dubliners, it has pretty much baffled my expectations. Like Suzanne, I'm reading in shorty chunks and I frequently find myself zoning over some of the material, so I have to go back and reread it. So, it's challenging to read and, likewise, not very easy to discuss.

This last two chapters show our hero, Stephen Dedalus, on his journey from devout Christian-dom to being something of heretic, or at least rejecting dogmatic religion. There's a long passage in Ch. 5 where Stephen takes us through his philosophy of aesthetics, based on Aristotle and Augustine. To grossly simplify Dedalus' (aka Joyce's) thoughts, I kind of see him saying that true or high art allows us to rise above our animal nature. As such, Dedalus says art takes three basic forms: 1) the lyrical form, the form wherein the artist presents his image in immediate relation to himself; 2) the epical form, the form wherein he presents his image in mediate relation to himself and to others; the dramatic form, the form wherein he presents his image in immediate relation to others.
The esthetic image in the dramatic form is life purified in and reprojected from the human imagination. The mystery of esthetic, like that of material creation, is accomplished. The artist, like the God of creation, remains within or behind or beyond or above his handiwork, invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent, paring his fingernails.
It seems that Dedalus' philosophy of art coincides with his changing religious beliefs, far and away from where he was at the end of Ch. 3. The idea of God here, "paring his fingernails" is very much a god who has set things in motion and now sits back. In other words, a non personal god.

There's so much to talk about, but again I find this a difficult work to discuss. I'm really close to the end now. There's a passage where Dedalus sees a flock of birds that I think could be seen as the climax of the story in terms of the protagonist finding his wings--about to fly. The theme of the work could be said to be the role of an individual versus his/her role in society. Dedalus decides to live the life of an artist as opposed to the life of a clergyman and it promises to be a rather lonely life, but also one of intellectual freedom.
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Re: Ch. 5 - A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

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Reading a bit further along, I'm wondering if this work was considered blasphemous at the time it was published. (I could Google it, but I thought I would just ask here.) There are some refreshingly frank discussions about religion. Dedalus is very intellectually independent towards the end here. I think he would probably be considered an atheist today or an agnostic at the very least. Quite possibly he could be considered an atheist in the context of this story.

I reread my comment in the last post about Deadlus about to find his wings. I had completely forgotten the Icarus connection, but it suddenly jumped out. Duh. I could probably reread this book from start to finish and get so much more out of it.
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