A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man – Top Ten Quotes

  1. “He would fade into something impalpable under her eyes and then in a moment, he would be transfigured. Weakness and timidity and inexperience would fall from him in that magic moment.” p. 67 (Penguin edition)Stephen’s youthful imaginings about a mysterious ideal female.
  2. “His childhood was dead or lost and with it his soul capable of simple joys, and he was drifting amid life like the barren shell of the moon.” p. 102Stephen reflects on his life during his trip to Cork with his father.
  3. “He felt that he was hardly of the one blood with them but stood to them rather in the mystical kinship of fosterage, fosterchild and fosterbrother.” p. 105Stephen begins to feel isolated from his mother, brother and sister.
  4. “His soul was fattening and congealing into a gross grease, plunging ever deeper in its dull fear into a sombre threatening dusk, while the body that was his stood, listless and dishonoured, gazing out of darkened eyes, helpless, perturbed, and human for a bovine god to stare upon.” pp. 119-20After hearing the rector speak about sin and salvation, Stephen feels guilty about his own sins.
  5. “His soul sickened at the thought of a torpid snaky life feeding itself out of the tender marrow of his life and fattening upon the slime of lust.” p. 151Stephen’s thoughts about the nature of sin, as he hurries to a chapel to confess.
  6. “Life became a divine gift for every moment and sensation of which, were it even the sight of a single leaf hanging on the twig of a tree, his soul should praise and thank the Giver.” p. 162.Stephen’s reflections during his period of piety at Belvedere College.
  7. “He was destined to learn his own wisdom apart from others or to learn the wisdom of others himself wandering among the snares of the world.” p. 175Stephen’s thoughts immediately after he realizes he will never be a priest.
  8. “Yes! Yes! Yes! He would create proudly out of the freedom and power of his soul, as the great artificer whose name he bore, a living thing new and soaring and beautiful, impalpable, imperishable.” p. 184Stephen realizes his calling as an artist.
  9. “Whatever else is unsure in this stinking dunghill of a world a mother’s love is not.” p. 263Cranly tries to persuade Stephen to listen to his mother.
  10. “Welcome, O life! I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.” pp. 275-76Stephen’s penultimate journal entry.