Does the narrative of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man make it a modern novel?    

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that the message that comes out of Joyce's work and the manner in which it is delivered both reflect the modern concept of the novel.  The most dominant element in which this is present is how Joyce sees the world through Stephen Dedalus.  When Woolf writes about the shifting of "human relations" into a new vision of the world, this becomes the driving force in Joyce's work.  Gone are the "old" structures such as religion or national identity that used to define one's sense of self.  In its place are "new" forces such as the "non-serviam credo" and the concept of the epiphany that force a fundamental shift in how consciousness is viewed.  The stream of consciousness manner in which the first person is both everywhere and nowhere, simultaneously, and where structure and identity are both emerging from figments and fragments of perception are also representative of the modern novel.  The idea of the individual being able to struggle with the lack of totality in the world and seeking to fully understand this in a more coherent and clear manner is also a part of both the modern struggle for articulation and what the novel presents to the reader.  In this, I think that one can clearly argue that that the narrative presented in Joyce's work makes it a modern novel.

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