Realism in James Joyce’s Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

What does Joyce clearly state? What does Joyce clearly state?
What does Joyce clearly state?

(Fritz Senn, ‘Dynamic Adjustment in Dubliners’)

chisono_scrWhen James Joyce said that ‘in realism you get down to facts on which the world is based; that sudden reality that smashes romanticism into a pulp’, he affirmed something that doubled into a question: what constitute the “real” for Joyce? Recent criticism offers an extensive analysis on what constitute “reality” in both Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and proposes a reading of Joyce’s realism in terms of representation of a harsh reality in Dubliners, and of interplay between harsh reality and subjectivity in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. The aim of this essay is to investigate Joyce’s realism in Dubliners and in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man on two levels. Firstly, in the analysis of realism in Dubliners critics have too often underestimated the role played by subjectivity, and I will argue that A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is not the first depositary of James Joyce’s relativistic attitude towards reality, as critics such as Riquelme seem to suggest.(1)Secondly, I will suggest looking at Joyce’s early fiction in terms of an evolutionary realism, a mode of representation of life and experience that aimed to arouse, or to make others see, a development.
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