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Britain’s Wild West: Joyce’s Encounter with the “Apache Chief”

From: James Joyce Quarterly
Volume 46, Number 2, Winter 2009
pp. 219-238 | 10.1353/jjq.0.0149



This essay reconsiders “An Encounter” in light of a newly discovered source text for “The Apache Chief,” the only issue of the popular, contemporary juvenile papers named in Joyce’s story. It argues that “An Encounter” can be read as a subversive parody of the same so-called penny-dreadful publication it references, establishing an ironic distance between the young narrator’s misadventure in the Dublin streets and the idealized heroism of Joe Dillon’s library of Wild-West tales. With “The Apache Chief” as meaningful pre-text, “An Encounter” functions as Joyce’s critique of the discourse of race, gender, and nation in the boys’ magazines of Dublin-born media magnate Alfred Harmsworth, Lord Northcliffe. Paralleling the subject positions of native Irish and Native-American, the story reveals and responds to the ways in which The Halfpenny Marvel and other periodicals intended for a younger readership exported imperialist ideologies from center to periphery and narrates an attempt to resist this colonizing influence.

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