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Enter Stephen Dedalus, the brooding poet. I love how Rob’s illustration brings out the way in which the top of the tower is like an arena–there’s a gladatorial dimension to what’s happening here that this format really brings to life.
— In case you were wondering, Portrait fans, this is the same Stephen Dedalus we last saw vowing to “forge in the smithy of his soul the uncreated conscience of his race.” Joyce used the name as a nom de plume early in his career, in addition to giving it to his fictional alter ego. But you’ll see that Stephen is a little older, a little more jaded, and more than a little depressed.
— I know it’s basic, but it doesn’t hurt to have a little refresher on Daedalus. A master builder and creater of labyrinths.
— Interesting that as Rob has drawn it, we’re getting Stephen’s POV here. One of Joyce’s signature moves is to give his narrating voice elements of the vocabulary or stylistic tics or perceptions of a character in the scene. Where it might first seem that the narrator is your usual omniscient, once you really start to parse who’s doing the talking, it can sound like the narrator’s voice and style are flavored by a particular character (often described as the character “infecting” the narrator’s voice). I have a perverse theory that the narrator of Portrait is actually Stephen himself, talking about himself in the third person. [Hugh Kenner called this style the “Uncle Charles Principle.” in his classic Joyce’s Voices]. The text here doesn’t show UCP (as the Joyceans call it) so much, but this medium requires choices of perspective that can help illustrate the phenomenon.