A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

  • by James Joyce
  • Narrated by Donal Donnelly
  • 11 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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.

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Audible Editor Reviews

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.

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What the Critics Say

"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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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

What an Odd Book

I guess I'd have to say that this book is a technical marvel. Joyce describes the life of Steven Dedalus, primarily his inner life, as he progresses from a young boy through to the verge of manhood. The writing style Joyce uses matches Steven's complexity of thought at every age, from the very simplest of sentences at the beginning of the work, to quite complex construction at the end.
The prose is striking throughout the book, and I enjoyed how Joyce often jumps from one subject to another, not necessarily completing any, just as our minds often jump around restlessly, images, memories, emotions coming and going.

My primary problem with the book is that I developed no attachment to Steven. For almost the entire work, I felt very distanced from him; there was little in his personality that I could relate to, and consequently, I didn't care much how he worked out his difficulties.

Another problem was that a very large section is given over to a description of the teachings of the Catholic Church. The purpose seems to be to describe in detail what Steven was thinking at a time he was immersed in religious feeling; but the effect was deadening, at least on me. I read literature to learn about the innermost workings of my fellow creatures. I neither want nor need to listen to the teachings of the Catholic Church for over an hour.

Ditto a later section on the philosophic debates Steven engaged in with his schoolmates. Yes, boys st these ages are prone to profound religious feelings, and later to philosophic debates. But when I myself engaged in them at Steven's age, I found them quite boring. Joyce's writing about them is no different.

On the very positive side, I thought the narration was simply masterful. The narrator takes all the time he needs to express what each sentence means, giving every sentence its full weight. The recording quality could have been better, though.

But all in all, a very odd book. Give me Proust any day.
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- Edward "ed_b"

sounds horrible

This was my first audible purchase, so I didn't know what to expect. I copied the largest file and burned it to disk. I was disappointed. The reading is VERY bass heavy, muddy, and difficult to listen to. At 11 hours, I think I'm just going to throw out the disks I made from it.

Though I love the book, and wanted a complete reading, I feel like I just threw my money away.
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- Jeffrey

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-16-1999
  • Publisher: Recorded Books