Free Classics: “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” by James Joyce

Every Friday, Marilyn Knapp Litt, who blogs at ClassicKindle.com, brings us her recommendation of a free classic book to discover (or rediscover) on Kindle. Find more of Marilyn’s recommendations at her blog, ClassicKindle.com, a guide to the best free and inexpensive classic literature for the Kindle. You can also get Marilyn’s blog on Kindle and I recommend that you “Like” the Classic Kindle Facebook page as well so you don’t miss anything. Here’s Marilyn’s post:

I love this book. It is a very readable story about an Irish boy and his Catholic upbringing. It is a semi-autobiographical novel of Joyce’s own childhood. But it was not novelistic enough for some of his family who wished to disown him.

Here is a taste:

On each of the seven days of the week he further prayed that one of the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost might descend upon his soul and drive out of it day by day the seven deadly sins which had defiled it in the past; and he prayed for each gift on its appointed day, confident that it would descend upon him, though it seemed strange to him at times that wisdom and understanding and knowledge were so distinct in their nature that each should be prayed for apart from the others.

Or:

During the first part of the summer in Blackrock uncle Charles was Stephen’s constant companion. Uncle Charles was a hale old man with a well tanned skin, rugged features and white side whiskers. On week days he did messages between the house in Carysfort Avenue and those shops in the main street of the town with which the family dealt. Stephen was glad to go with him on these errands for uncle Charles helped him very liberally to handfuls of whatever was exposed in open boxes and barrels outside the counter. He would seize a handful of grapes and sawdust or three or four American apples and thrust them generously into his grandnephew’s hand while the shopman smiled uneasily; and, on Stephen’s feigning reluctance to take them, he would frown and say:

—Take them, sir. Do you hear me, sir? They’re good for your bowels.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is to Ulysses, what The Hobbit is to The Lord of the Rings. It is an earlier, easier, essential read before tackling the longer book.

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