“Enter these enchanted woods ye who dare,” is the famous, dictum from Sean O’Faolain about Portrait. As with all of Joyce’s works, Portrait rewards its readers, over and over again, with its inexhaustible richness. It is a most enveloping and enchanting book, and Weldon Thornton’s latest exploration of its world makes a major contribution to Joyce scholarship.
Thornton takes a fresh look at important psychological and cultural issues in the novel, arguing that although it may be a classic text of literary modernism, it’ is a fundamentally antimodernist work. The novel reflects a distance between Joyce and Stephen not simply in its tone or in certain differences between author and character but in its very structure and verbal texture. Thornton’s comprehensive and thoughtful book provides readers with a new cultural critique and intellectual history of Portrait, which promises to become one of the major discussions of the novel.