James Joyce is considered a master of the Bildungsroman, the German word for what is essentially equates to a coming-of-age story. However, when examining A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, there exists a more specific genre to explain the coming of age of Joyce’s young anti-hero, Stephen Dedalus: the Künstlerroman. Whereas a Bildungsroman deals more broadly in the coming of age of a young protagonist, typically ending with some marked character development or critical change, the Künstlerroman tracks the personal development of an aspiring artist.
A complex novel rich with numerous themes and motifs, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man easily fits into many other literary genres. The novel is often considered to be semi-autobiographical, where Joyce has injected some of his own life experiences and struggles as an artist into the character of Stephen Dedalus. Additionally, many would argue that although often considered as belonging in the general category of British Literature, the Irish experience is so unique as to necessitate its own, separate genre.