A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (UK Edition) by James Joyce

By James Joyce

The portrayal of Stephen Dedalus's Dublin adolescence and adolescence, his quest for id via artwork and his sluggish emancipation from the claims of family members, faith and eire itself, can be an indirect self-portrait of the younger James Joyce and a common testomony to the artist's 'eternal imagination'.

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29 Commentators tend to stress the omnipresence of homosexuality as a standard element in the public-school experience, even as a tone of intolerance dominated official rhetoric and infused the boys’ anxious psychic development. In his moving autobiographical memoir, for instance, Symonds describes a system of “bitching” and “fagging,” constructed on a model of hierarchy, brutality, and exploitation, rather than tenderness or tolerance, which terrorized the young and confused homosexual. Of equal importance to the complex enabling and policing of homosexual acts was the proliferation of intimate, romantic friendships between boys.

He was sentimental and a little sacramental, for he had begun life as a clergyman. He was a socialist who ignored industrialism and a simple-lifer with an independent income and a Whitmannic poet whose nobility exceeded his strength and, finally, he was a believer in the Love of Comrades, whom he sometimes called Uranians. It was this last aspect of him that attracted me in my loneliness. For a short time he seemed to hold the key to every trouble. I approached him . . 12 In Carpenter’s soaringly optimistic model of comradeship, which borrows liberally from Whitman’s “Calamus” poems, the anxieties one might expect to accrue to problems of desire, sexuality, and class politics are wiped away in an ecstasy of loving male community.

And it is certainly true that, like Carpenter, Pater offers a complete vision of friendship as a social and aesthetic structure whose merit and power go unchallenged. Yet, an analysis of Pater’s approach to friendship yields some surprising results. For Pater, male friendship will never quite be able to reconcile all the contrasts it seems, at some level, to harmonize and fuse; it unsettles as much as it consolidates. At the center of Pater’s concept of friendship, as developed in The Renaissance (1877), is conflict – the conflict between intimacy and institutions, which might also be understood as a juxtaposition of male love against stabilizing cultural traditions, the couple versus the group.

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