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A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Narrated by: Colin Farrell
Length: 8 hrs and 17 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (51 ratings)

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Summary

His family name is derived from a Greek craftsman who created the Labyrinth and designed wings for himself and his son to fly away from the island in which they were imprisoned. But Stephen Dedalus, the young hero of James Joyce's first novel, is a young man who rises above his baser instincts and seeks a life devoted to the arts.  

This quintessential coming-of-age novel describes the early life of Stephen Dedalus. It is set in Ireland during the 19th century, which was a time of emerging Irish nationalism and conservative Catholicism. Highly autobiographical in nature, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man draws heavily on real events and characters from Joyce's own life, though he adopts an ironical and often satirical tone. The work is also notable for its being the first one in which Joyce uses innovative “stream of consciousness” writing style.  

A Portrait... follows Stephen Dedalus from his babyhood into early adulthood. One of the most remarkable things about Joyce's style is that the early chapters are expressed in childlike language. For instance, the famous opening lines of the book are, “Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down the road....” These are lines from a story that Stephen's father tells him as a baby. The final lines “Welcome, O Life! I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience....” Between these two lines lies the story of Stephen's growth and development. He goes through phases of religious obsession, where he passionately follows his church's teachings and is often racked by guilt and despair. However, as he attains manhood, his rational, adult faculties begin to emerge, and he goes forth to meet life as a fully conscious, aware individual, enriched by all that has happened to him.  

Joyce explores the ideas of the overriding role of religion in the life of the Victorian Irish people, their extremism and their fanaticism. He also explores the role of the artist in society and the artist's responsibilities. Finally, Joyce delves into the larger questions of Irish nationalism and their need for self-government. 

A Portrait... is a work young people should experience for its passionate optimism and older people should experience for the recollections it evokes of their own past.

Public Domain (P)2018 Audible, Inc.

Critic reviews

"Colin Farrell's narration of this classic certainly does not disappoint. James Joyce's prose often seems like it was written to be narrated because of its natural musicality and cadence.... Farrell's emphatic, lilting voice follows Stephen's mind into the nooks and crannies of consciousness. His vocal characterizations are distinct and effective, especially his loud, bold portrayal of Simon Dedalus, Stephen's father, a striking contrast to the sensitive, soft-spoken son. Yet Farrell captures the many facets of Stephen's thoughts and emotions, which run the gamut from boldness to meekness. Farrell's ability to handle such a variety of emotions in creating Stephen's voice makes this relatively short audiobook a success." (AudioFile Magazine)

"In Farrell's reading...the great set pieces of the book - the violently argumentative Christmas dinner scene, the harrowing sermon on hell...are delivered with admirable coolness and restraint." (The New York Times Book Review)

What members say

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tantalising, tickling all of the senses

I really enjoyed this audio. An articulated dance with words so poetic and profound. I did think that the description of hell and damnation a bit full on, left echoes in my mind for a few days. Beautiful tone from Colin. With charm and clarity He really added to the stories capability to provoke and activate the awakened imagination, visualising nicely the presentation of this clever journey. Story Tellers at there best. thank you. x

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Beautifully narrated

I have read the book before and loved it then. The narration adds an extra layer to it, especially as it is done by an Irishman. The female voices did make me chuckle.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A Masterpiece

Collin Farrell's performance was peerless, the story, the feeling and context of the times, and Stephen's searching was brought to life in a realistic and unpretentious manner.

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Stunning performance by Farrell.

This a very challenging book but Farrell's performance brings it to life. The obvious struggle with his religion is the driver of all that he is . Ireland only onto recently has broken the suffocating shackles of the church ch ...

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If Only Colin Farrell had time to narrate Ulysses

A great book, fascinating following a young boy through his early education and reaching adolescence and making his own choices and decisions. The early part of the book reads as a child wrote it and becomes more eloquent as he ages and goes through change.
Colin Farrell is a natural narrator of Joyce's works and hopefully some day he has time to take on the bigger ones, very clear spoken, soothing and harsh when needs be but always at the perfect speed

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Lovely

Beautiful. It comes together at the end to create a true enchantment of the heart. I've never been so moved by anyone's writing. And the performance by Farrell was brilliant.

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Read When You Want To, Not When You’re Told To!

I read this for a course & that is not always the best way to read a book. I only continued, because I had to do so. I think I will enjoy it more when & if I revisit it. I do, however, think that this is only a portrait of a single young man, as opposed to young men!

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Joanie
  • 25-02-19

Thank Goodness for Mr Farrell

I honestly can't say that I enjoyed this book, I found it very drawn out and monotonous to say the least.
I'm sure that James Joyce was a brilliant writer, and if anything his attention to detail is astonishing!
But this particular book was just not for me, I listened to the end more out of respect and with a small flicker of hope that maybe, just maybe it will end better than it began, but alas it did not.....the only thing or I should I say the only one that kept me listening was Colin....Well done Mr Farrell, well done in deed, maybe try something a little lighter next time though, maybe something along the lines of Joy Ellis or Patricia Gibney?

47 of 56 people found this review helpful

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  • James
  • 29-01-19

Bitterly disappointed

I'm a huge fan of Joyce and when I saw this version by Colin Farrell I thought "well done Audible for matching this great book with an Irish reader". Unfortunately it didn't turn out as well as it should have. The reading was very one dimensional and with very little attention given to characterization. For example, Stephens father, who is a larger than life bombastic Cork man was portrayed as a very flat man with a Dublin accent. Time after time the text was misinterpreted giving the impression that the reader didn't understand what he was reading.
I can't help thinking that if Joyce was around today then this version wounldn't meet with his approval.

71 of 85 people found this review helpful

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  • Lauren
  • 29-06-19

A superb listen

Colin Farrell is excellent. Daedalus jumps alive in Farrell's rendition of the Joyce classic. I couldn't press pause.

22 of 28 people found this review helpful

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  • Linda
  • 29-01-19

Finally

Colin Farrell is the perfect reader for this book. Much easier to follow the weavings of the story with his voice guiding the way.

17 of 22 people found this review helpful

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  • M. Michaud
  • 21-02-19

Loved it.

The native accent made this performance especially enjoyable. Chapter 3 made me laugh out loud. This audiobook makes Joyce more accessible...at least for me.

10 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 23-05-19

The performance let me experience more

An incredible book that touched me closely, but I am amazed at how good the performance was. Truly raised it to a new level!

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Brett kroncke
  • 12-05-19

Colin Farrell is perfect for this.

pleasant and clever and well narrated. another precocious brooding youth story, Irish style. highly recommended

9 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Broncofan
  • 18-02-19

Tough Read but I enjoyed this very much

It takes awhile to get used to Joyce's particular style, but the reading by Colin Farrell was exceptional and I very much enjoyed the book.

9 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Jeff Lacy
  • 05-02-19

Nice performance just not perfect

Colin Farrell does a superb job narrating Joyce’s novel. There were, however, some mispronunciations and sentences missing (I don’t know what version he was reading). All in all though it was a pretty good performance.

10 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • Lynn A. D.
  • 14-09-19

very well performed

This story was very well performed in wonderful Irish accents, and captured the mood and emotions of the characters. A young man struggles with his faith and purpose in life, struggling with sin, and yet speaking with his friends in philosophical and thought-provoking conversations.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful