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8.11.12

James Joyce, The Cats of Copenhagen

Joyce children's book published for the first time by Scribner
James Joyce, The Cats of Copenhagen. Illustrations by Casey Sorrow
Christopher Schulz (LitReactor):
Though not known for kid’s books, having penned such literary heavy hitters as Ulysses and Finnegan’s Wake [sic.], Mr. Joyce is no stranger to the platform. In 1936 he published The Cat and the Devil, an illustrated storybook described by Maria Popova of BrainPickings as “a classic fable narrative mixing Irish wit with French folklore, shaken and stirred with Joyce’s extraordinary storytelling.” The tale originated from a letter Joyce wrote to his grandson Stephen.

The Cats of Copenhagen had an identical genesis, but while The Cat and the Devil eventually found publication in book-form, its predecessor remained a story solely for Stephen. That is, until Ithys Press, a small publisher in Ireland, unearthed the letter and partnered with artists Casey Sorrow and Michael Caine to illustrate and typeset the text. The aforementioned BrainPickings has a nice collection of images from the book here.

Of course, the publication is not without controversy. According to The Guardian, the Z├╝rich James Joyce Foundation, which owns the original letter containing The Cats of Copenhagen, claims Ithys had no right to release the story because, they believe, Joyce’s unpublished works are not in the public domain (his published works went out of copyright at the beginning of this year). The foundation’s Fritz Senn fears the infringement will bring about a lawsuit from the “very belligerent” Joyce estate. [Read More]
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