Book Rec: Bloom Edited References

Good news, everyone. My Blaze review from my Cannonball Read site was just republised on Pajiba. Godtopus be praised! Now to put everyone to sleep. Book Rec: Modern Critical Interpretations: James Joyce's A Portrait of the Atist as a Young Man, edited by Harold Bloom I won't mince words here. I hate A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. I think Stephen Dedalus is undeniably one of the most irritating and unlikable characters ever created in the history of the English language. There's a reason why I am not including a post on that book on the blog: it's technically sound writing (I love the actual writing in the book) wasted on, to me, a completely worthless subject. Oh look, Stephen hates school. Stephen loves school. Stephen hates church. Stephen loves church. Stephen hates church again. Stephen writes a poem. Hooray? But that is not the subject of this post. The subject is a wonderful compendium of critical essays on Portrait pulled together by Harold Bloom. At first I thought: I must be too critical. Surely no one else feels the same way about Stephen as I do. Then I read this book while working on my Portrait paper. It was a revelation. The essays cover a wide variety of topics within the novel that basically boil down to the following truth: Stephen is supposed to be that insufferable because he is a young artist. I can't argue with that. Doesn't make me like the book more, but at least I'm not totally off base here. The most interesting essay is Suzette Henke, basically desribing Stephen's constant moral flipping as a way to recocile the Mary/whore complex. She suggests he tries to fill void within his personality swings by turning a whore into Mary and vice versa throughout the book. I'm not doing it justice. I just thought it was a very interesting and surprisingly readable (which was the point) selection of Joycian criticism that works to open up the book to other possibilities. Am I recommending you go run out and buy this? No. Borrow it from the library, even? Not unless you really have a desire to wade through Portrait again (or for the first time). Then it's the perfect side dish. And if all the html tags are messed up, I apologize. Blogger looks very strange on my screen right now.

Labels: book rec