This is the semi-autobiographical story of Joyce's life as a student in Dublin. Protagonist, Stephen Daedelus is in the throes of deciding whether to become a priest or an artist. It is the experimental writing style of this book that outshines the story, which sometimes paints Daedelus as quite a boring young man. The story, which is more like poetry than prose, is written in a series of flashbacks which can be difficult to follow. And of course Joyce's hero goes on to become the leading character in his greatest book, Ulysses
This report prepared by Penny
Joyce presents a fictionalized account of his late teens and religious/academic studies in Dublin, and the various courses -- religious, academic, artistic -- that drew him. Technically set at the end of the 19th century, it is more modern in its outlook and approach. It is no thinly-disguised autobiography, but a fully-realized work of literary art and craft. Very readable in comparison with his later sprawling masterworks, _Ulysses_ and _Finnegans Wake_, this or _Dubliners_ would be a safe introduction for the new reader.
This report prepared by David Loftus
The third best book written in English in the twentieth century, this is James Joyce's first novel. It's easily accessible to anyone (which is not necessarily the case for Ulysses and Finnegans Wake), and is fairly short. The story is the early life of Stephen Dedalus, a boy growing in Ireland that goes to a Catholic school and struggles with his artistic, humanistic side, and the side of himself that feels he should be in the clergy. Truly a fascinating book.
This report prepared by David J. Peterson