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Written with Ireland as the setting of the novel, The Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, brings forth different aspects of the power dynamics that characterised the twentieth century Ireland. It was the ‘age of the empire’ and the different European powers were busy colonising more and more territories. The status of Ireland as both the coloniser as well as the colonised, by the British, is what makes the case of Ireland unique whenever it comes to discussing the ideas of nationalism and colonialism. Joyce in his novel puts forward the unique Irish experience through the life of his protagonist, Stephen Dedalus, who finds himself enmeshed in the political conflicts of the day and struggles his way in his quest for artistic autonomy. Stephen’s uneasiness about the political controversies and his ambivalent stand regarding Irish political leaders can be seen as Joyce’s own rejection of Irish nationalism and his choice for artistic autonomy.
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Howes, Marjorie. “Joyce, Colonialism and Nationalism” The Cambridge Companion to James Joyce. Cambridge University Press, 1990. pp 254-269. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CCOL0521837103.013
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Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Viking Press, 1964.