A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man


“When the soul of a man is born in this country there are nets flung at it to hold it back from flight.
You talk to me of nationality, language, religion. I shall try to fly by those nets.”

–James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

James Joyce (1882–1941)
“A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”
In The Egoist: An Individualist Review 1, no. 3 (2 February 1914)
The Morgan Library & Museum, gift of Sean and Mary Kelly, 2018; PML 197802
© The Estate of James Joyce.


James Joyce’s first novel is a Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and it began in serial form in The Egoist, which was a London magazine, edited by Dora Marsden and Harriet Shaw Weaver. Harriet Shaw Weaver would become very important to the life of Joyce, as she funded him to a large extent, so he could get on with his work in peace. Once the novel began to be serialized, of course, the problems that were always there began about the work’s content, and Harriet Shaw Weaver had to fire several of the magazine's printers, because they would censor words that referred to bodily functions.

The novel is a beautiful book about the growth of a young man, very much based on the life of Joyce himself, his Catholic education with the Jesuits, his home life, the life of his father, his time at University College Dublin. We watch as the style changes in the book from a sort of almost baby talk in the opening sentences to a very, very sort of fragmented ending of the book. And what we have in the book is an account of the growth of the artist who would someday soon write Ulysses.