Tackling, or ‘studying’ A Portrait again, probably after doing so long ago in some literature class at school? Why not read Stephen Hero in the process? Joyce had written upwards of a thousand pages of his story, shopped them around to all the publishers he knew, and then ended up throwing the manuscript on the fire in a fit of despair.
Couldn’t get it past the censures, couldn’t get what he wanted to say past the safe keepers of the public mores. He then reworked it and after endless compromises at their behest finally succeeded in publishing it as A Portrait.
Does the fact that it was published make A Portrait part of the canon and leave out what Joyce truly wanted to say, and in a much simpler straightforward fashion? In academia’s eyes, yes.
However, for those truly curious as to Joyce’s underlying magic, his genuine genius, Hero is a great read, focusing primarily on the absolutely crucial years of around nineteen and twenty, or what is covered more circumspectly in A Portrait towards the end.
And as far as the Indian philosophy goes, good luck. Know that Joyce got to a place beyond Indian or any other kind of philosophy. A place of the living realities which actually underpins all philosophies in fact.
A place where Life takes precedence, the flow of it that is. The fact that we are born and raised into a community, a psycho/spiritual/intellectual group, hopefully become functioning members of it, form ties with others and perhaps procreate and then in turn raise children into it as well, and then eventually to age, wither, and die.
A place where the individual is nothing, the flow of the group everything.
That being said, there are those who don’t succeed in joining the common lot, who resist what might be called the indoctrination process, who step outside and peer down on it from above. Take in not the teachings and lessons of the group but those beyond it. Delve into what some call the ‘ultimate mysteries.’ The Buddhas, the Jesus’s, and countless others.
And that is Joyce’s story, what is taking place in A Portrait, Stephen Hero, and Ulysses. A raising into and yet rejection and moving beyond, to something else, to the timeless and eternal values.
You see what happens when I get comments? You see what you’ve brought upon yourself?
Thanks though, it was fun.