James Joyce's first novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is a Kunstlerroman which chronicles the emotional and intellectual development of Stephen Dedalus - a character partly based on the author himself - from his early childhood and his school and university days all the way to his first forays as a young artist. Dedalus's thoughts and epiphanies reveal the tensions, insecurities and feelings of guilt that are the product of living in a country and period so deeply divided along religious and political lines. Pioneering an innovative stream-of-consciousness technique characteristic of early Modernism, and often resorting to mythical, historical and literary allusion which would find fuller expression in Ulysses, Joyce's groundbreaking work shocked the readers of its day and continues to challenge analysis and interpretation.
Born in Dublin, James Joyce (1882 - 1941) spent most of his life abroad, living in Trieste, Paris and Zurich. His writings, however mainly centre on Dublin - most famously Ulysses, Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. He pioneered and perfected avant-garde prose techniques that saw him rise to the rank of one of Europe's foremost Modernists.