Joyce: Art & Artistry

Her image had passed into his soul forever and no word had broken the holy silence of his ecstasy. Her eyes had called him and his soul had leaped at the call. To live, to err, to fall, to triumph, to recreate life out of life! A wild angel had appeared to him, the angel of mortal youth and beauty, an envoy from the fair courts of life, to throw open before him in an instant of ecstasy the gates of all the ways of error and glory. On and on and on and on!

Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Dover Thrift Editions) (p. 123). Dover Publications. Kindle Edition.


This moment in chapter 4 comes after Stephen realizes that the virgin Mary, no longer has the same effect on him as she once did. After hiding from the Christian Brothers and being teased by some of his peers, Stephen encounters a girl bathing and makes eye contact with her. He compares her to a wild angel of youth and beauty.