Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Epiphany in "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" College

The word “epiphany”, literally meaning “showing forth”, is originally a Biblical term, referring to the festival commemorating the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles, often called the “Magi”, usually celebrated on 6th January, or Twelfth Night. On this day there is a Church feast celebrating the coming of the “three Kings of the Orient” to worship the baby Jesus. The word, however, is adapted by James Joyce to encompass his artistic vision, first expressed in the Preface to the “Dubliners”, and then defined in more detail in “Stephen Hero”, his first autobiographical story, almost destroyed by him, and then published as a fragment after his death. In “Stephen Hero”, Stephen, planning a book of epiphanies, tells us that “by an epiphany he meant a sudden spiritual manifestation, whether in the vulgarity of speech or of gesture or in a memorable phase of the mind itself. He believed that it was for the man of letters to record these epiphanies with extreme care, seeing that they themselves are the most delicate and evanescent of moments”. An epiphany, therefore, in Joyce’s sense, “shows forth” the full reality of what is seen and observed, but not in logical, analytical form. The reality appears to the mind in a flash of...

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