First encounters are intense and often decisive moments both in life and literature. This study analyzes nineteenth-century French and German texts by comparing six representative scenes of first encounters and their implications. The close readings reveal how, while dealing with appearance, first encounters inevitably lead to deeper insights. The selected scenes show how the self is affected by the challenging appearance of the encountered other. Crucial psychoanalytic and epistemological issues are raised as well as new perspectives on major French and German texts.