Book Review: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce (1914)

7588A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
My Rating: 5 of 5 stars

APRIL 19 (Evening): Alright. This is insane. It has been almost eighteen, 18 (has more impact) hours since I sat down to scribble something about what is going on in my mind but the right words are still elusive. And this eluding is colluding my mind no bounds. No, I did not mean to create any sense of rhythmic rhyme here. Because life is no rhyme. And far from rhythmic. It is a battle – fierce, dark, compounded with many elements and munitions and machineries and what not. It is a forever raging battle where I always find myself fighting, well, ME. Yes, I am always up against myself. A Present ME vs A Future ME, A Strong ME vs A Weak ME, A Hopeful ME vs A Dejected ME, A Sure ME vs A Doubtful ME. The last one, seems, perennially raging, blazing like the eternal flame of a glorious soul. Ah, Soul . Why did I even write that word? While the whole world tells me it is the purest part of a body, the guardian of noble deeds and the first thing to leave a body that has rotten beyond repair, I have seen it the most corrupt. In my case at least. I mean what was the soul doing when I was bartering my innocence for shrewdness in school? What kept the soul busy when I bargained my mother’s love for an empty vessel of ego? And where was the soul snoring when I engaged my skin in disgusting deflowering acts? I don’t believe in soul.

Or…is it just my soul? Tarnished, contaminated, listless, condemned? Does the soul have two doors? That if I enter through one, I would see wistful smoke, pious fragrance and bright lights of goodness and if I enter through the other, the room would turn black, with nauseating stench and coarse rays of sin everywhere? Is it an eternal dilemma of which door shall I push open? The Ever and Never of Soul? Of Life? Oh I don’t know. This is all so maddening.

Mother told me I will get answers in the home of God. And so, I have made a good number of visits to his house. Let me say I like him. Wherever he is, talking to him, makes me feel good. Basically, he always lends an ear, the luxury which none of my friends are willing to extend. So, I talk to him. I believe in him, like I do in a friend. I fight with him, I lie to him, I sing songs with him, I spend many hours of silent confessions with him. But when I am asked to treat him as a superior, rather the most Supreme, I raise my hand in hesitant protest and ask him questions – Why should I delegate you up there? Why should I pray to you? Why should I be religious? What good it is to be a member of your community? I had respect for you and even placed my faith in you. I believed in your assurance under which I dared to offer my loving heart to another beautiful creation of yours. But by letting seep the venomous stream of unrequited love into me, you killed a part of me. Should I not blame you for that? Weren’t you supposed to safeguard my innocent emotions if I were under your refuge? In my hours of adolescent wretchedness, when foul smell of arrogance and vanity emanated from my unabashed openings, why did you not arrest it with a warm blanket of your wisdom? I started losing faith in you and you stood there, watching. Why did you not protect me when atheistic shower was pounding on my vulnerable heart?

Well, I can keep pointing fingers at you because it is easy and requires no preparation. You don’t answer and I can throw my missiles at you. But whether it is likely that I went wrong somewhere? No clear answer.

May be I should search. May be I should read. Read more of Aquinas and Aristotle. And other great minds. I am learning anew to swim in their submersible waters. They talk about beauty and sin, glory and pity, truth and myth. Sometimes, I grab a bunch of answers and sometimes, I grapple in nothingness. But mostly, I get navigators. You ask navigate where to? Oh, I need to find answer for that one too! But by deploying the triple weapons of silence, exile and cunning, I have seen the answers are not that obscure. Really. Whether my filial duties and academic tenacities would contribute in this quest is something I don’t know. But this questioning would. And I think I would continue doing that no matter how much worthy mass the process accumulates and how much filth it throws my way. Yeah, it sounds good.

Oh wait! I just wrote a whole page, didn’t I? Not bad for someone who was swimming in a wordless sea just a few minutes back. Good Lord! Alright then. Time to go. I have a walk to take and a few more questions to ask for the day. See you at another junction. And don’t ask me where.

  • Anonymous Stephen Dedalus My Alter Ego

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One thought on “Book Review: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce (1914)

  1. Pingback: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JAMES JOYCE! | Fleeting Brook

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