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`Welcome, O life! I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.'
Autobiographical in tone, Joyce's tale of Stephen Dedalus' journey into adulthood explores the intellectual and moral development of an artist as he struggles to overcome the ingrained Catholic consciousness of his childhood - a family life governed by Irish history, religion and politics. Realistic and innovative in its approach, the style of writing proved controversial upon publication in 1916 and the character of Stephen on a quest for his identity did not appeal to readers.However, Joyce expertly encapsulates the development of individual consciousness and the role of the artist in society in what is considered one of his greatest works.