Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

These are my favorite parts/sections of the novel (title above) by James Joyce.

If you have never read this novel by James Joyce, here is my brief plot outline:

Portrait of The Artist as a Young Man is widely agreed to be an autobiographical novel of Joyce’s life, which illustrates his Catholic upbringing and slow but steady rebelling of it’s doctrines. It has vivid examples of preachers preaching sermons on Hell and uniquely identifiable passages that deal with sexual desire and temptation from a Christian boy’s perspective.

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James Joyce

I am very interested in literature on Religion, and Joyce is notoriously opposed to Religion, especially Christianity. That is why I found it important to include him — and this novel — into the blog.

  • Religion Diminishes Rational Thinking
  • Joyce on Repentance
  • Joyce on Hell & Torture
  • Sermon on Hell
  • Joyce on Sexual Temptation

Religion Diminishes Rational Thinking:

“If we are a priest-ridden race we ought to be proud of it! They are the apple of God’s eye. touch them not, says Christ, for they are the apple of my eye” (30).

“No God for Ireland! he cried. We have had too much God in Ireland. Away with God! … He stared before him out of his dark flaming eyes, repeating — Away with God, I say!” (31)

“God and religion before everything! Dante cried. God and religion before the world.” -notice God and religion!!! This is exactly what New Atheists say, that Religion poisons rationality.. that it doesn’t help the intellectual. “They could all have become high-up people in the world if they had not become Jesuits” (39).

Joyce on Repentance:

Could it be that he, Stephen Dedalus, had done those

things? His conscience sighed in answer. Yes, he had done

them, secretly, filthily, time after time, and, hardened in sinful

impenitence, he had dared to wear the mask of holiness

before the tabernacle itself while his soul within was a living

mass of corruption. How came it that God had not struck

him dead? The leprous company of his sins closed about

him, breathing upon him, bending over him from all sides.

He strove to forget them in an act of prayer… (116)

“One soul was lost; a tiny soul: his. It flickered once and went

out, forgotten, lost. The end: black, cold, void waste” (120)

Joyce on Hell & Torture:

“An idler of course. I can see it in your

eye. Why is he on his knees, Father Arnall?

— He wrote a bad Latin theme, Father Arnall said, and he

missed all the questions in grammar.

— Of course he did! cried the prefect of studies, of course

he did! A born idler! I can see it in the corner of his eye.

He banged his pandybat down on the desk and cried:

— Up, Fleming! Up, my boy!

Fleming stood up slowly.

— Hold out! cried the prefect of studies.

Fleming held out his hand. The pandybat came down on it

with a loud smacking sound: one, two, three, four, five, six.

— Other hand!

The pandybat came down again in six loud quick smacks.

— Kneel down! cried the prefect of studies.

Fleming knelt down, squeezing his hands under his armpits,

his face contorted with pain; but Stephen knew how

hard his hands were because Fleming was always rubbing

rosin into them. But perhaps he was in great pain for the

noise of the pandybat was terrible. Stephen’s heart was beating

and fluttering.

— At your work, all of you! shouted the prefect of studies.

We want no lazy idle loafers here, lazy idle little schemers. At

your work, I tell you. Father Dolan will be in to see you

every day. Father Dolan will be in tomorrow (40).

— Lazy idle little loafer! cried the prefect of studies. Broke

my glasses! An old schoolboy trick! Out with your hand this


Stephen closed his eyes and held out in the air his trembling

hand with the palm upwards. He felt the prefect of

studies touch it for a moment at the fingers to straighten it

and then the swish of the sleeve of the soutane as the pandybat

was lifted to strike. A hot burning stinging tingling blow like

the loud crack of a broken stick made his trembling hand

crumple together like a leaf in the fire: and at the sound and

the pain scalding tears were driven into his eyes. His whole

body was shaking with fright, his arm was shaking and his

crumpled burning livid hand shook like a loose leaf in the

air. A cry sprang to his lips, a prayer to be let off. But though

the tears scalded his eyes and his limbs quivered with pain

and fright he held back the hot tears and the cry that scalded

his throat.

— Other hand! shouted the prefect of studies (41).

..”It was unfair and cruel” (42).

“Christian brothers be damned!” -p.59

Sermon on Hell:

It is they, the foul demons, who are made in

hell the voices of conscience. Why did you sin? Why did you

lend an ear to the temptings of friends? Why did you turn

aside from your pious practices and good works? Why did

you not shun the occasions of sin? Why did you not leave

that evil companion? Why did you not give up that lewd

habit, that impure habit? Why did you not listen to the counsels

of your confessor? (104)

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Joyce on Sexual Temptation:

“When he had eluded the flood of temptation many times in this way he grew troubled and wondered whether the grace which he had refused to lose was not being filched from him little by little” (130)

“Frequent and violent temptations were a proof that the citadel of the soul had not fallen and that the devil raged to make it fall” (130)

“It humiliated and shamed him to think that he would never be freed from it wholly, however holy he might live or whatever virtues or perfections he might attain. A restless feeling of guilt would always be present with him: he would confess and repent and be absolved, confess and repent again and be absolved again, fruitlessly” (131).

I hope you enjoyed these.

Until next time,

keep reflecting.

Written by

Author of “Up in the Air: Christianity, Atheism & the Global Problems of the 21st Century” on AMAZON | Exploring Ethical Living | IG: jakub.ferencik.official

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