27 pages 54 minutes read

James Joyce

An Encounter

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1913

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Literary Devices


Joyce’s writings include a wide range of modernist approaches. With “An Encounter,” he uses the narrator as a kind of lens through which the reader is able to view a Dublin schoolboy in his natural habitat. We’re privy to all the narrator’s thoughts and schemes as he sets off on his small adventure along Dublin’s waterways.

This natural approach is typical of the stories in Dubliners. In his introduction to the Penguin Classics Centennial Edition of the collection, Terence Brown cites a letter that Joyce wrote to his publisher Grant Richards:

It is not my fault that the odour of ashpits and old weeds and offal hangs round my stories. I seriously believe that you will retard the course of civilisation in Ireland by preventing the Irish people from having one good look at themselves in my nicely polished looking glass (xxiv).

Joyce clearly felt that he was doing his homeland a great service by adhering strictly to his Naturalist tendencies.


Dublin itself could be considered a character in most Joyce works, and “An Encounter” is a perfect example. It is possible that the story could work in a different setting, but it would likely end up as a completely different story.