The Meditative Structure of Joyce's <i>Portrait</i>

Thomas F. Van Laan

in Foundational Essays in James Joyce Studies

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780813035291
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813038483 | DOI:
The Meditative Structure of Joyce's Portrait

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This chapter focuses on the meditative structure of Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. The chapter also discusses the Ignatian system demonstrated by Joyce thorough familiarity with the tradition of meditation derived from Ignatius Loyola's Spiritual Exercises. The Ignatian spiritual exercises provide a coherent system of meditation for approximately one month of extremely intensive internal analysis. The structure of the Portrait thus follows the pattern of the Ignatian spiritual exercise such that the novel effects a kind of secularized spiritual exercise carrying its central figure through the progressive stages of memory, understanding, and will. The technical fusion of religious pattern with aesthetic discipline that went into the novel's ordering of random experience parallels Stephen's own fusion of Aquinas and Aristotle in his theory of art.

Keywords: meditative structure; internal analysis; Ignatian system; Ignatian spiritual exercises; religious pattern; aesthetic discipline

Chapter.  5123 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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