A Portrait began life in 1903 as Stephen Hero—a projected 63-chapter autobiographical novel in a realistic style. After 25 chapters, Joyce abandoned Stephen Hero in 1907 and set to reworking its themes and protagonist into a condensed five-chapter novel, dispensing with strict realism and making extensive use of free indirect speech that allows the reader to peer into Stephen's developing consciousness. American modernist poet Ezra Pound had the novel serialised in the English literary magazine The Egoist in 1914 and 1915, and published as a book in 1916 by B. W. Huebsch of New York. The publication of A Portrait and the short story collection Dubliners (1914) earned Joyce a place at the forefront of literary modernism. The novel begins with Stephen Dedalus' first memories, when he was about three years old. The fragmented lines are from a childhood story and a nursery song, and are linked with family associations, sensory perceptions, and pieces of conversation. In this opening scene, Joyce is presenting to us the genesis of a future artist's perception and interpretation of the world. Moving from Stephen's infancy to his early days at Clongowes Wood College, a Jesuit boarding school for boys, Joyce focuses on three key incidents which significantly affect Stephen's personality. First, Stephen is pushed into an open cesspool by a bullying classmate, and, subsequently, he develops a fever which confines him to the school infirmary; here, he begins to discern that he is "different," that he is an outsider.
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