Melvyn Bragg and guests Roy Foster, Jeri Johnson and Katherine Mullin discuss A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce's groundbreaking 1916 novel about growing up in Catholic Ireland.
Many novelists choose their own young life as the subject for their first book. But very few have subjected themselves to the intense self-scrutiny of the great Irish novelist James Joyce.
In A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, published in 1916, Joyce follows his alter ego, Stephen Dedalus, from babyhood to young adulthood. He takes us from Stephen wetting the bed, through a teenage visit to a prostitute, and on through religious terrors to the prospect of freedom. When it was published, the book met with shock at its graphic honesty.
Joyce shows Stephen wrestling with the pressures of his family, his Church and his nation. Yet this was far from being a straightforward youthful tirade. Joyce's novel is also daringly experimental, taking us deep into Stephen's psyche. And since its publication almost a century ago, it has had a huge influence on novelists across the world.
Roy Foster, Carroll Professor of Irish History and Fellow of Hertford College, Oxford
Jeri Johnson, Senior Fellow in English at Exeter College, Oxford
Katherine Mullin, Senior Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Leeds.