Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man was the first book I read by Joyce and I loved it! I’m currently 9 chapters into Ulysses. (A group of fellow Joyce lovers and I read the book aloud for 1 1/2 hours every other week followed by an informal discussion.) I’ve also read his book of poetry, Chamber Music, several times. I know I’m not supposed to read Stephen Hero because it doesn’t properly represent Joyce’s “esthetic”, but I loved it, too!
Stephen Hero is an unpublished manuscript written by James Joyce between 1904 and 1906. It is the earlier version of what became Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. I wrote two previous posts on Stephen Hero: Joyce Hero and Stephen Hero, an Introduction. This post is simply highlights from the text that I think might be important for future reference. (They are all about Stephen Daedalus or by him.)
Beginning of the manuscript:
- He became a poet with malice afterthought.
- People seemed to him strangely ignorant of the value of the words they used so glibly.
- Words, he said, have a certain value in the literary tradition and a certain value in the market-place – a debased value.
- The monster in Stephen had lately taken to misbehaving himself and on the least provocation was ready for bloodshed.
- But the episode of religious fervor which was fast becoming a memory had resulted in a certain outward self-control which was now found to be useful.
- He was not convinced of the truth of saying “The poet is born, not made” but he was quite sure of the truth of this at least, “The poem is made not born.”
- He was an enigmatic figure in the midst of his shivering society where he enjoyed a reputation. His comrades hardly knew how far to venture with him and professors pretended to think his seriousness a sufficient warrant against any practical disobedience. On his side of chastity, having been found a great inconvenience, had been quietly abandoned and the youth amused himself in the company of certain of his fellow-students among whom (the fame went) wild living was not unknown.
- Stephen, after certain hesitations, showed Maurice the first-fruits of his verse and Maurice asked who the woman was. Stephen looked a little vaguely before him before answering and in the end had to answer that he didn’t know who she was. [Was this a reference to Chamber Music?]
- “It is so! It is so! Life is such as I conceive it.”
- Stephen may be said to have occupied the position of notable-extraordinary: very few had ever heard of the writers he was reported to read and those who had knew them to be mad fellows.
- …the monster in him, now grown to a reasonably heroic stage…
- …the spirit of Henrik Ibsen. He understood that spirit instantaneously.
- …the minds of the old Norse poet [Ibsen] and of the perturbed young Celt [Stephen] met in a moment of radiant simultaneity.
- Ibsen was the first among the dramatists of the world.
- It was the very spirit of Ibsen himself that was discerned moving behind the impersonal manner of the artist: [Ibsen with his profound self-approval, Ibsen with his haughty, disillusioned courage, Ibsen with his minute and willful energy.] a mind of sincere and boy like bravery, of minute and willful energy… Here and not in Shakespeare or Goethe was the successor to the first poet of the Europeans, here as only to such purpose in Dante, a human personality had been found united with an artistic manner which was itself almost a natural phenomenon: and the spirit of the time united one more reading with the Norwegian than the Florentine.
- Only twelve months ago he had been clamoring for forgiveness and promising endless penance. He could hardly believe that it was no other than he who had clung so fiercely to the sole means of salvation which the Chuch vouchsafed to her guilty children.
- A very stout black-bearded citizen who always wore a wideawake hat and a long bright green muffler was a constant figure at these meetings. [Refers to Michael Cusack, the “Citizen” of Ulysses, and founder of the Gaelic Athletic Association]
- He recognized at once the martial mind of the Irish Church in the style of this ecclesiastical barracks. [Stephen is visiting his former college with Wells who is now a seminarian. He is thinking about the seminarian life he turned down. Love “martial mind”!]
- On the other hand he was persuaded that no-one served the generation into which he had been born so well as he who offered it, whether in his art or in his life, the gift of certitude.
- His Esthetic was in the main applied Aquinas, and he set it forth plainly with a naïf air of discovering novelties… He proclaimed at the outset that art was the human disposition of intelligible or sensible matter for an esthetic end, and he announced further that all such human dispositions must fall into the division of three distinct kinds, lyrical, epical and dramatic. Lyrical art, he said, is the art whereby the artist sets forth his image in immediate relation to himself; epical art is the art whereby the artist sets forth his image in mediate relation to himself and to others; and dramatic art is the art whereby the artist sets forth his image in immediate relations to others… Having by this simple process established the literary form of art as the most excellent he proceeded to examine it in favour of his theory, or, as he rendered it, to establish the relations which must subsist between the literary image, the work of art itself, and that energy which had imagined and fashioned it, that center of conscious, re-acting, particular life, the artist.
- The artist, he imagined, standing in the position of mediator between the world of his experience and the world of his dreams – a mediator, consequently gifted with twin faculties, a selective faculty and a reproductive faculty. To equate these faculties was the secret of artistic success: the artist who could disentangle the subtle soul of the image from its mesh of defining circumstances most exactly and re-embody it in artistic circumstances chosen as the most exact for it in its new office, he was the supreme artist. This perfect coincidence of the two artistic faculties Stephen called poetry and he imagined the domain of an art to be cone shaped.
- A classical style, he said, is the syllogism of art, the only legitimate process from one world to another. Classicism is not the manner of any fixed age or of any fixed country; it is a constant state of the artistic mind. It is a temper of security and satisfaction and patience.
- …the classical school fighting the materialism that must attend it, the romantic school struggling to preserve coherence…
- Chief among these profanities Stephen set the antique principle that the end of art is to instruct, to elevate, and to amuse. “I am unable to find even a trace of this Puritanical conception of the esthetic purpose in the definition which Aquinas has given of beauty” he wrote “or in anything which he has written concerning the beautiful…”
- In fine the truth is not that the artist requires a document of license from householders entitling him to proceed in this or that fashion but that every age must look for its sanction to its poets and philosophers. The poet is the intense center of the life of his age to which he stands in a relation than which none can be more vital. He alone is capable of absorbing in himself the life that surrounds him and flinging it abroad again amid planetary music.
- Art is not an escape from life. It’s just the very opposite. Art, on the contrary, is the very central expression of life. An artist is not a fellow who dangles a mechanical heaven before the public. The priest does that. The artist affirms out of the fullness of his own life, he creates…
- It is all a question of temper – one’s attitude towards society whether one is poet or critic…. Ibsen has the temper of an archangel.
- My entire esteem is for the classical temper in art. …the Greek drama is heroic, monstrous. Eschylus is not a classical writer!… By “classical” I mean the slow elaborating patience of the art of satisfaction. The heroic, the fabulous, I call romantic…
- If we must have a Jesus, let us have a legitimate Jesus.
- Don’t mention him [Jesus]. I have made it a common noun. They didn’t believe in him; they don’t observe his precepts. In any case let us leave Jesus aside. My sight will only carry me as far as his lieutenant in Rome. It is quite useless: I will not be frightened into paying tribute in money or thought.
- I have never believed in his [Jesus] chastity – that is since I began to think about him. I am sure he was no eunuch priest. His interest in loose women is too persistently humane. All the women associated with him are of dubious character.
- But what is the Church? It is not Jesus, the magnificent solitary with his inimitable abstinences. The Church is made by me and my like – her services, legends, practices, paintings, music, traditions. These her artists gave her. They made her what she is. They accepted Aquinas’ commentary on Aristotle as the Word of God and made her what she is.
- These wanderings filled him with deep-seated anger and whenever he encountered a burly black-vested priest taking a stroll of pleasant inspection through these warrens full of swarming and cringing believers he cursed the face of Irish Catholicism: an island whereof the inhabitants of which entrust their wills and minds to others that they may ensure for themselves a life of spiritual paralysis, and island in which all the power and riches are in the keeping of those whose kingdom is not of this world, an island in which Caesar confesses Christ and Christ confesses Caesar that together they may wax fat upon a starveling rabblement which is hidden ironically to take to itself this consolation in hardship “The Kingdom of God is within you.”
- Even the value of his own life came into doubt with him. He laid a finger upon every falsehood it contained; an egoism which proceeded bravely before men to be frighted by the least challenge of conscience, freedom which would dress the world anew in the vestments and usages begotten of enslavement, mastery of an art understood by few which owed its very delicacy to a physical decrepitude, itself the brand and sign of vulgar ardors. Cemeteries revealed their ineffectual records to him, records of the lives of all those who with good grace or bad grace had accepted on obvious divinity. The vision of all those failures, and the vision, far more pitiful, of congenital lives, shuffling onwards amid yawn and howl, beset him with evil; and evil, in the similitude of a distorted ritual, called to his soul to commit fornication with her. [His mother then comes to him in a panic about something coming out of dying Isabel’s “hole”.]
- Aquinas had defined the good as that towards the possession of which an appetite tended, the desirable.
- For Stephen art was neither a copy nor an imitation of nature: the artistic process was a natural process.
- The life of an errant seemed to him far less ignoble than the life of one who had accepted the tyranny of the mediocre because the cost of being exceptional was too high.
- The Church differentiates between the good which this man seeks and the good which I seek. There is a bonum simpliciter. The men you mention seek a good of that kind because they are impelled by passions which are direct even if they are menial: lust, ambition, gluttony. I seek bonum arduum.
- There is no reason why life should lose all grace and nobility even though Columbus discovered America. I will live a free and noble life.
- The toy of life which the Jesuits permit these docile men to live is what I call a stationary march. The marionette life which the Jesuit himself lives as a dispenser of illumination and rectitude is another variety of the stationary march. And yet both these classes of puppets think that Aristotle has apologized before the eyes of the world. Kindly remember the monstrous legend upon which all their life is regulated – how Aristotlean it is! Kindly remember the minute bylaws they have for estimating the exact amount of salvation in any good work – what an Aristotlean invention!
- The woman in the black straw hat has never heard of the name of Buddha but Buddha’s character seems to have been superior to that of Jesus with respect to unaffected sanctity.
- The spectacle of the world in thrall filled him with the fire of courage. He, at least, though living at the farthest remove from the center of European culture, marooned on an island in the ocean, though inheriting a will broken by doubt and a soul the steadfastness of whose hate became as weak as water in siren arms, would live his own life according to what he recognized as the voice of a new humanity, active, unafraid, unashamed.
- He could not accept whole-heartedly the offers of Protestant belief; he knew that the liberty it boasted of was often only the liberty to be slovenly in thought and amorphous in ritual. No-one, not the most rabid enemy of the Church, could cause it of being slovenly in thought; the subtlety of its disquisitions had become a byword with demagogues. No-one again could accuse the Church of being amorphous in ritual. The Puritan, the Calvinist, the Lutheran were inimical to art and to exuberant beauty: the Catholic was the friend of him who professed to interpret or divulge the beautiful. Could he assert that his own aristocratic intelligence and passion for a supremely satisfying order in all the fervor’s of artistic creation were not purely Catholic qualities? The ambassadors did not labour this point.
- He toyed also with a theory of dualism which would symbolize the twin eternities of spirit and nature in the twin eternities of male and female and even thought of explaining the audacities of his verse as symbolical allusions.
- [Upon overhearing a conversation between a young lady and gentleman]. This triviality made him think of collecting many such moments together in a book of epiphanies. By an epiphany he meant a sudden spiritual manifestation, whether in the vulgarity of speech or of gesture or in a memorable phase of the mind itself. He believed that it was for the man of letters to record these epiphanies with extreme care, seeing that they themselves are the most delicate an evanescence’s of moments.
- You know what Aquinas says,: The three things requisite for beauty are, integrity, a wholeness, symmetry and radiance. Someday I will expand that sentence into a treatise. Consider the performance of your own mind when confronted with any object, hypothetically beautiful. Your mind to apprehend that object divides the entire universe into two parts, the object, and the void which is not the object. To apprehend it you must lift it away from everything else: and then you perceive that it is one integral thing, that is a thing. You recognize its integrity…That is the first quality of beauty: it is declared in a simple sudden synthesis of the faculty which apprehend. What then? Analysis then. The mind considers the object in whole and in part, in relation to itself and other objects, examines the balance of its parts, contemplates the form of the object, traverses every cranky of the structure. So the mind receives the impression of the symmetry of the object. The mind recognizes that the object is in the strict sense of the word, a thing, a definitely constituted entity… Now for the third quality. For a long time I couldn’t make out what Aquinas meant. He uses a figurative word (a very unusual thing for him) but I have solved it. Claritas is quidditas. After the analysis which discovers the second quality the mind makes the only logical possible synthesis and discovers the third quality. This is the moment which I call epiphany. First we recognize that the object is one integral thing, then we recognize that it is an organized composite structure, a thing in fact: finally, when the relation of the parts is exquisite, when the parts are adjusted to the special point, we recognize that it is that thing which it is. Its soul of the commonest object, the structure of which is so adjusted, seems radiant. The object achieves its epiphany.
- Satan offers a monstrous life. It is monstrous because the seat of the spiritual principle of a man is not transferable to a material object. A ma only pretends to think his hate more important than his head. That view of life, I consider, is abnormal.
- I found a day-school full of terrorized boys, banded together in complicity of diffidence. They have eyes only for their future jobs: to secure their future jobs they will write themselves in and out of convictions, toil and labor to insinuate themselves into the good graces of the Jesuits.