Not all readers can handle James Joyce, but this is one of his more accessible works, and this is an easy and comfortable way to enjoy it. It's kind of a philosophical coming of age, in which the protagonist, obviously the autobiographical version of the author, discovers that the convoluted and severe Catholicism of his youth falls apart when confronted with the growing wisdom and maturity of real life. If you understand that sentence, you'll understand Joyce.
I'm not sure how it will be for everyone else, but my copy seems like it was printed on demand! The book includes the day the book was printed and I'm pretty sure the date is the same as my order. I live near the publisher so it's nice to know I'm supporting a small business! The book came in good (new) condition, but I have one small gripe with it. The whole book is printed in a Courier New-like (typewriter) font, so it's a little hard on the eyes. I haven't gotten around to reading it yet and this one of the reasons why. I will read it, but I would have liked to know that the novel had this font. Otherwise, a nice addition to my growing Joyce library.
Who am to judge James Joyce? Like many, I put off reading this book until retirement. I should have read it earlier. It is at or near the top of all the thousands of books I have read in over 75 years of reading. I followed it "Dubliners" which is, if possible, even more brilliant. I am halfway through "Ulysses" and have learned to let it wash over my mind and not to fret about every word's meaning. Joyce is unique in 20th century literature for a very good reason.
James Joyce is one of those authors beloved by literature professors but very difficult to read for pleasure. His sentences are long and often seem to go nowhere, he doesn't tell the story in any clear way, and you never feel like you really know the characters. He uses elaborate, almost poetic language. Maybe some poetry lovers like to linger over the words and savor each incomprehensible line. If you're not of that mind, you might struggle with this book.
The story itself is indirectly told, and sometimes feels like work to read. Still, Joyce stirred up just enough interest in the protagonist to make me persevere to the end. I enjoyed Joyce's presentation of Irish attitudes on religion, nationalism, etc. Not being knowledgeable of Irish cultural history, I don't know if his portrayal is accurate or just his own creation, but it was the main interest for me in this novel.
Some say "A Portrait of the Artist..." is a preliminary reading for being able to handle Joyce's Ulysses. If so, the much shorter "...Portrait..." at least has the virtue of letting you sample Joyce to see whether you belong among the crowd of admirers.
One of the ways I justified getting a Kindle was all the free books (of the "classics") variety I could read. I remembered starting this as a teenager and giving up on it, but I decided to give it another try.
I'm glad I did, as I was finally ready for it.
As far as "plot" goes, it can be summarized fairly quickly. You probably won't be turning the pages to see "what happens." But you could be drawn in to find out how Stephen's mind progresses -- to me, the most appealing part of the book. As Stephen progresses from childhood to adulthood, you can see each chapter become more complex -- it's one of the best portrayals of intellectual maturing that I've ever read. Some great portions include the dinner table argument about Parnell, the hell sermon, and the conversation about the nature of art.
It feels really presumptous to write a review of what is widely considered to be one of the greatest novels of all time, but I guess that is what reviews on Amazon are for. If you have a Kindle, you can get it for free -- why not?
While all Kindle free books seem to have some typos, the ones in this book are very minimal.
The book is difficult to read. The chapters do not seem to flow easily from one to the other. It is described as a coming of age book, but the life of the main character is set in the early 1900's. There is a very very long section of the book when the main character is dealing with guilt for his sins. During that time he attends a school retreat wherein hell is vividly described.
Already many reviews on offer for this novel. I enjoyed it more than Dubliners, it offered more depth. The early life of Stephen Dedalus from his early school days until his branching out on his own. He appeared to me to be very mature for a teen (I was surprised when it said he was 16 years old in the novel at one juncture) A young man who marched to the beat of a different drum, a thinker and to some extent an outsider. Well worth a look at.