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