The artistic aspirations of Stephen Dedalus have for decades been read ironically. McLaren argues that this critical stance has obscured our understanding of James Joyce's philosophical and artistic themes: the nature of the artist, the artistic process, the evolution of artistic consciousness. "Reframing 'A Portrait of the Artist'" offers a fresh reading of Joyce's semi-autobiographical novel, through the framework of three perspectives. The first of these, a history of the novel's inception and early phases of composition, illuminates Joyce's artistic labours as he struggles to find an original form and language to match the intentions of his design. Through detective work tracing Joyce's creative growth, an account emerges of how a strikingly new, modernist sensibility came to find expression. Secondly, an historiographic narrative is offered of how Joyce, in the aftermath of his notorious sojourn in Rome (1906-7), learnt to grapple with his own 'nightmare' of history, and how this contributed to a breakthrough in novelistic form and style.
Finally, a new and very different reading of Portrait is offered that investigates the trajectory of Stephen's artistic development, demonstrating the personal and social struggles involved in the development of a writer's talent: Stephen's struggle for self-individuation, the process of intellectual and imaginative growth, and the powerfully inhibitory effects of social discourse, particularly political and religious forces. This book will interest not merely Joyce scholars, teachers and theorists of the creative process, but also the general reader. Literary theorists may appreciate the innovative application of theories of Mikhail Bakhtin, and in particular the analysis of novelistic form according to changes in the chronotope, a novel's time and space relations. One hundred years on from when Joyce undertook in earnest the 'reframing' of his first novel out of the draft fragment Stephen Hero, it is timely to identify and reframe our own assumptions. What emerges is a genuinely fresh reading of the novel that allows us to better understand the ironies, playful humour and joyfulness of the work.