One of the most original literary works of the 20th century, Joyce's novel follows the life of Stephen Dedalus in a story divided into 5 sections, each of which is written in a voice that reflects Stephen's age and development. The childhood memories are written in a deceptively simple, evocative, childlike style, while the final section about Stephen's maturity conveys complex themes through Latin-sprinkled, stream-of-consciousness prose. When this novel was first released in 1916, some critics were bewildered by Joyce's bold use of language to redefine the very structure of novels. Today the novel is accepted as one of the greatest English-language works in history.
Narrator Donal Donnelly recites and sings with childish delight as the little boy Stephen Daedalus begins to understand the world around him. Donnelly creates an occasionally petulant young Stephen as he works his way through language and syntax and deals with leaving his parents for boarding school. Donnelly’s transitions are flawless as schoolboy Stephen endures corporal punishment and bullying, and he is up to the challenge as Stephen’s vocabulary matures and sensuality overtakes the adolescent. Donnelly credibly illustrates the growth of a young artist, completely capturing Stephen’s intellectual and emotional development.
"Here words are not the polite contortions of 20th-century printer's ink. They are alive. They elbow their way on to the page, and glow and blaze and fade and disappear." (Samuel Beckett)
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Great classic, hard to listen
- Helen Olmsted
What an Odd Book