Perhaps James Joyce's most personal work,
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man depicts the intellectual awakening of one of literature's most memorable young heroes, Stephen Dedalus.
Through a series of brilliant epiphanies that parallel the development of his own aesthetic consciousness, Joyce evokes Stephen's youth, from his impressionable years as the youngest student at the Clongowed Wood school to the deep religious conflict he experiences at a day school in Dublin, and finally to his college studies, where he challenges the conventions of his upbringing and his understanding of faith and intellectual freedom.
Joyce's highly autobiographical novel was first published in the United States in 1916 to immediate acclaim. Ezra Pound accurately predicted that Joyce's book would "remain a permanent part of English literature", while H. G. Wells dubbed it "by far the most important living and convincing picture that exists of an Irish Catholic upbringing".
With a rough-hewn Irish accent, John Lee narrates this classic novel by Ireland's favorite son. Joyce's first novel, this bildungsroman is nothing like his more daunting Ulysses, but it still shows the wide range of style and tone he used in his writing. Narrating any Joyce text is a demanding task, but Lee pulls it off expertly, not trying to make unique voices for characters, but melding them into a coherent overall narration. Americans not accustomed to an Irish accent may need some time to get used to this narration, but it's worth the effort as Lee's delivery certainly provides the local color of this timeless novel.
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