In comparison to many great and well-known authors and their renowned volumes of work, James Joyce wrote just three novels – A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. His collections of other work however, consisted of poetry, short story and series of epiphanies . Many individuals have analysed Joyce and written literary critiques and study-guides stemming from their interpretations of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, including Harvey Peter Suckmith – an Associate Professor of English at Dalhousie University, who has also focused on works such as Little Dorit by Charles Dickens and The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins . In beginning his analysis, Sucksmith states: “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young
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Despite no longer having the capability of influencing the reception of his work, he inadvertently influenced Harry Levin – an American professor of Comparative Literature – to become the first writer of critical introduction to Joyce’s works, due to a letter of gratification he sent in regards to an article Levin produced on Finnegans Wake . From this James Joyce: A Critical Introduction was successfully published in 1941 as part of ‘The Makers of Modern Literature Series’ .
A common theme throughout most analyses of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is their references to the text as an auto-biographical piece. As Sucksmith implies, the title alone suggests a character study, in which biographical subject-matter is surely evident to aid the development of Stephen through infancy to early manhood . However, along with Clive Hart, both believe readers should be wary in classing it as an autobiographical text, as Stephen Hero – Joyce’s original experimentation with autobiography – ‘was discarded as too crude, too direct and too full of circumstantial detail ’ and thus, Joyce altered Stephen Dedalus’s character, so he became a highly fictionalised version of himself – intense, solemn and less human in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man . Another common interpretation of the text is Joyce’s allusions to Homer’s Odyssey and the myth of Daedalus. Although Joyce doesn’t specifically