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I???d only ever read Joyce???s short story ???Araby,??? having been intimidated by the difficult reputation of his work (especially Ulysses and Finnegan???s Wake), so I was unprepared for how wonderful A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is???and how accessible.
It must partly be due to Jim Norton???s marvelous reading, so sensitive to and enhancing of the novel???s poetic rhythms and sounds, beautiful images, savory characters, and mix of comedy and tragedy. Norton, reading the base narration in an appealing and neutral English accent (to my American ear) and the dialogue in an impressively and appropriately varied range of Irish accents and personalities, helps to bring alive the cultural, personal, dramatic, and thematic meanings of every word in the novel. Many scenes have been imprinted on my mind: Stephen unfairly having his hands flogged in class and then screwing up his courage to visit the Rector about it; Stephen listening to a priest giving intense sermons on the physical and mental horrors of hell (Norton-priest had atheist me shaking my head and chuckling at the sadistic-masochistic Catholic imagination one moment and tremblingly thinking that I???d better go to confession the next); Stephen raptly watching a girl wading with her dress hiked up; Stephen talking with his friend Cranly about mothers and Catholicism???. And many more.
After finishing the audiobook, I didn???t want it to end, so started listening to it again??? I also visited a website with the text of the novel and read parts of that, realizing that Jim Norton had me understanding it just as well if not better than I would have had I read it myself.
This audiobook version of Joyce???s novel is filled with beauty, humor, sadness, love, lust, guilt, transcendence, and life. Next up: Dubliners and Ulysses read by Jim Norton!
13 of 13 people found this review helpful
Not only is this a great and intensly memorable book, it is also wonderfully narrated with strong and distinct characterization. The narrator really brings the characters alive in this movingly personal portrait of the artist as a young man. Absorbing and strongly recommended!
26 of 27 people found this review helpful
Having re-read, again 30 years after first reading, having picked up off the shelf in Byrne?s bookshop in Dungarvan - probably about my fifth or sixth time to read, Joyce?s story of the young Stephen Dedalus is another old friend. The set pieces lose none of their power and, if anything, with the passage of time and middle-age seem more immediate and vibrant in the writers pre-occupations. Still a relatively young man when he wrote Portrait, James Joyce is able to bring the immediacy of young childhood, the shocking wanting to cry of an unjust punishment, the ambiguity of mortal sin, the wonder of the Hellfire sermon and the sheer enjoyment of intellectual investigation, argument and counter argument and the place of the great classic scholars in our day to day life. To be read again, undoubtedly, but really enjoyed on this visit....maybe onto Ulysses....but till the next time, Stephen..what a treat if you've not read it before - go on yourself..go on..
1 of 2 people found this review helpful