About the BookJames Joyce's first and most widely read novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is the story of Stephen Dedalus, a young man struggling to decide between a religious vocation and an artistic one. The aftermath of the struggle that is so poignantly and unflinchingly recorded forms a large part of the story of Joyce's masterwork, Ulysses, in which Stephen reappears as a main character.
In A Portrait of the Artist, Joyce renounces an episodic framework in favor of a group of scenes which radiate backward and forward. As such, the book more closely resembles a random series of portraits than a chronological narrative. Using his own childhood and adolescence as the basic theme of the story, Joyce attempts to recreate the past by embracing it.