27 pages 54 minutes read

James Joyce

An Encounter

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1913

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Authorial Context: James Joyce

James Augustine Aloysius Joyce was born in Dublin, Ireland, on February 2, 1882. He was the oldest of 10 surviving children born into a middle-class Roman Catholic family that saw their social and economic standing steadily decline during his childhood. Joyce’s mother, Mary Jane, died in 1903, less than a year after he graduated from the Royal University of Ireland. His father, John Stanislaus Joyce, already known as an idler and a drinker, slipped further into alcoholism. Within a year, the 22-year-old James left Ireland for good.

In October 1904, Joyce and the woman who would become his partner for the rest of his life, Nora Barnacle, moved from Dublin to the European Continent. It was there, during stays in Zürich, Trieste, Rome, Paris, and other European cities, that Joyce wrote the vast majority of his works, although the stories were always set in and primarily concerning Dublin. Joyce had a lot to say about the state of Ireland’s political, religious, and cultural identity, and the stories that he wrote for Dubliners were among his earliest attempts to showcase the best and worst of Irish life at the beginning of the 20th century.

“An Encounter,” the second story in Dubliners, was completed in 1905, toward the middle of Joyce’s writing process for the collection.