A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is a semi-autobiographical novel by James Joyce, first serialised in the magazine The Egoist from 1914 to 1915, and published first in book format during 1916 by B. W. Huebsch, New York. The first English edition was published by the Egoist Press during February 1917. The story describes the formative years of the life of Stephen Dedalus, a fictional alter ego of Joyce and an allusion to the consummate craftsman of Greek mythology, Daedalus.
A novel written in Joyce’s characteristic free indirect speech style, A Portrait is a major example of the Künstlerroman (an artist’s Bildungsroman) in English literature. Joyce’s novel traces the intellectual and religio-philosophical awakening of young Stephen Dedalus as he begins to question and rebel against the Catholic and Irish conventions with which he has been raised. He finally leaves for abroad to pursue his ambitions as an artist. The work is an early example of some of Joyce’s modernist techniques that would later be represented in a more developed manner by Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. The novel, which has had a “huge influence on novelists across the world”, was ranked by Modern Library as the third greatest English-language novel of the 20th century.