A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Dover Thrift by James Joyce

By James Joyce

Masterpiece of semi-autobiographical fiction finds a strong portrait of the arriving of age of a tender guy of surprising intelligence, sensitivity, and personality. Telling portrayals of an Irish upbringing and education, the Catholic Church and its priesthood, Parnell and Irish politics, sexual experimentation and its aftermath, and issues of artwork and morality.

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They rose up in geometrically shaped masses; and when all the inner lights had been extinguished and the square, uniform buildings were bathed in the light of dawn, they seemed like some vast modern machine, a steam engine or a cauldron supplying the digestive needs of a whole people, a huge metal belly, bolted and riveted, constructed of wood, glass, and iron, with the elegance and power of a machine working away with fiery furnaces and wildly turning wheels. Claude had enthusiastically jumped onto the bench.

The big baskets on the porters’ backs moved slowly along above the heads of the throng. The retail women, greengrocers, and fruiterers were all busy making their purchases. Milling around the mountains of cabbages were corporals and groups of nuns, while trainee cooks prowled about looking for bargains. The unloading continued; the carts discharged their enormous loads as if they were so many paving stones, adding their cascades to all the others, which were now flooding across the footpaths opposite.

When she had gone, Madame François sat down again with Florent. ’ she said. ‘She must be at least seventy-two. I can remember her buying turnips from my father when I was a little girl. She hasn’t got any family, just a young goodfor-nothing girl she picked up somewhere and who gives her nothing but trouble. Still, she manages somehow; she sells a bit here and there* and makes her forty sous a day. I know I could never live in this rotten city, spending the whole day in the street! ’ she asked, seeing that Florent still seemed unwilling to talk.

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