Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on James Joyce's An Encounter. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
An Encounter: Introduction
An Encounter: Plot Summary
An Encounter: Detailed Summary & Analysis
An Encounter: Themes
An Encounter: Quotes
An Encounter: Characters
An Encounter: Symbols
An Encounter: Theme Wheel
Brief Biography of James Joyce
Historical Context of An Encounter
Other Books Related to An Encounter
- Full Title: An Encounter
- When Written: 1904-1905
- Where Written: Dublin and Paris
- When Published: 1914
- Literary Period: Modernist
- Genre: Short Story, Coming of Age
- Setting: Dublin, Ireland
- Climax: When the narrator stands up and walks away from the strange old man who seems vaguely threatening.
- Antagonist: In the abstract, the narrator struggles with his feelings of boredom from a repetitive daily routine. But he also meets a human antagonist: a strange old man that the narrator meets who appears to derive sexual pleasure from looking at young girls and beating young boys.
- Point of View: First person
Extra Credit for An Encounter
Epiphanies: “An Encounter” and the other stories in Dubliners each contain what Joyce called an “epiphany:” a moment when a character has a sudden realization or a moment of discovery. Often, these epiphanies are not positive. Instead, they describe the moment a character’s hopes or expectations are dashed, or the moment a character fully grasps something negative about themselves, someone, or something around them.
Publishing Controversy: Like many of Joyce’s novels and stories, “An Encounter” was the subject of controversy throughout Dubliners’ publishing process. While Joyce signed a contract with the publisher of Dubliners, Grant Richards, in 1906, the collection was not published until 1914 because Joyce and Richards argued vehemently about how to edit each of the stories. Richards wanted Joyce to edit passages out of some stories to avoid potential libel or obscenity lawsuits. In fact, Joyce himself accidentally called Richards’s attention to the “obscenity” in “An Encounter;” he pointed out that it was lewder than the stories that Richards took issue with, and Richards then requested that Joyce cut the whole story from the collection.