Saturday, April 9, 2016

Authors and their Cats: James Joyce

Happy Caturday! Authors & their Cats: James Joyce

You may not know this, but James Joyce was a big cat lover and children's book author, as well as adult fiction writer.

There are two versions of The Cat and the Devil (1981), both based on a letter James Joyce wrote to his grandson Stephen in 1936 and illustrated by French artist Blachon. The UK edition was published earlier and illustrated by Gerald Rose. They're both wonderful, but I prefer the UK edition.

Another wonderful Joyce cat story is The Cats of Copenhagen, also based on another letter to Stephen which was found posthumously and published in 2012. Anastasia Herbert of Ithys Press first published the book in Ireland with a 200 copy illustrated print run. In early August 1936, Joyce had sent his grandson ‘a little cat filled with sweets’ – a kind of Trojan cat to outwit the grown-ups (see above). A few weeks later, while in Copenhagen and probably after hunting for another  gift, Joyce penned ‘Cats’, which begins: ‘Alas! I cannot send you a Copenhagen cat because there are no cats in Copenhagen.’ Surely there were cats in Copenhagen! But perhaps not ones filled with candy. The story proceeds to describe a Copenhagen in which things are not what they seem…There is definitely an adult subtext here: note the 'fat cat'

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