“But time shall be no more”: Some Temporal Aspects of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

in Reading Joycean Temporalities
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Rather than a simple chronological account of Stephen Dedalus’s development from early childhood to late adolescence and young manhood, A Portrait is a complex and highly patterned arrangement of fragments and repetitions, with significant moments and turning points in Stephen’s maturation. Any objective account of it is dominated by his individual experience which is traced and conveyed by time passing at different speeds. This essay focuses on repetition and its many manifestations in relationship to time. It considers the various roles of repetition as a deliberate lexical, phrasal, syntactical, rhythmical, psychological, structural and motific artistic device. Repeating and layering are ways of condensing and expanding time, and each repetition adds nuances to the meaning and deepens the echo chamber that is the text. From magic spells and invocations to gestures against forgetting, repetition plays a crucial role in A Portrait for both protagonist and readers. We participate in constructing Stephen’s story by establishing causality between the subtle motific variations in an effort to find narrative continuity, a readerly activity that is also very much a process in time.

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