For those soul-searching, here is an excerpt from A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, the first novel of Irish writer James Joyce (1882 – 1941). This autobiographical Künstlerroman is unprecedented in literature for its use of free indirect speech prefiguring Joyce’s stream of consciousness technique. American modernist poet Ezra Pound had the novel published in book format for the first time by B. W. Huebsch in New York, on the 29th of December 1916. The following passage captures one of the Joyce’s best-known epiphanies, his youthful infatuation with beauty – the seed of creativity:
“A girl stood before him in midstream, alone and still, gazing out to sea. She seemed like one whom magic had changed into the likeness of a strange and beautiful seabird. Her long slender bare legs were delicate as a crane’s and pure save where an emerald trail of seaweed had fashioned…
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I don’t consider myself to be well-read when it comes to the genre of biography. However, I stumbled across two wonderful recent biographies this past year, thanks to the “New” shelf at my public library. Both are tomes. Both had sections that were hard to push through at times, due to being so dense with information. However, I loved them both, and I’d recommend them to anyone with even a cursory interest in the writer.
- And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut: A Life, by Charles J. Shields
- James Joyce: A New Biography, by Gordon Bowker