Can A portrait of the Artist as a Young Man be considered an “aesthetic autobiography”?
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Yes, absolutely. James Joyce's novel A Portrait of the Artist As A Young Man is often considered as an 'aesthetic autobiography'. It is a kind of a bildungsroman which shows us the development of an artist's creativity. There is a sub-genre within the bildungsroman, which is called the kunstlerroman, to which Joyce's novel belongs.
From his school days to the choice of priesthood and its rejection, the epiphanies involving the girl on the sea, the poetic compositions taking shape from school diary to a full-fledged poem to another diary section, with which the novel closes, the serious discussions about the vision, technique, nature and function of art with his friends---all these traces relate to the artist's maturation.
Having said all that, we must be aware of the fact that no absolute identification between Stephen and Joyce. As critics like Hugh Kenner has shown us time and again, the narrator is an undercutting narrator too.
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