The novel 'Portrait of the Artist As A Young Man is regarded as one of the earliest Modernist novels. The author, James Joyce, wrote the novel partly as a response to the older realist style of the 19th century. Modernist authors like Joyce, Woolf and Lawrence wanted to develop writing as an art form in itself and for it to have more to say to real people rather than a literary elite. Society was changing, class barriers beginning to melt and the world order was to be shaken by wars, nations claiming their land back from colonists (including Ireland and India) Class, religion, creed,capitalism, culture and social hierarchy were shaken by radical ideologies and new innovations which made a mockery of previous elitism and bigotry.
Modernist novels also showed how central characters faced life and were galvanised by that traumatic journey. They were often very honest and spoke from the heart albeit in intellectually challenging ways. New readers were shocked at first and it took time for the genius of novels like 'A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man' and 'Ulysses' to be recognised. The 'stream of consciousness' style of writing was very difficult and challenging for new readers to adapt to and some of the writers were slated or even had their novels or plays banned or censored.