The Cats of Copenhagen was first written for James Joyce’s most beloved audience, his only grandson, Stephen James Joyce, and sent in a letter dated September 5, 1936. Cats were clearly a common currency between Joyce and his grandson. In early August 1936, Joyce sent Stephen “a little cat filled with sweets”—a kind of Trojan cat meant to outwit grown-ups. A few weeks later, Joyce penned a letter from Copenhagen that begins “Alas! I cannot send you a Copenhagen cat because there are no cats in Copenhagen.” The ...
The Cats of Copenhagen was first written for James Joyce’s most beloved audience, his only grandson, Stephen James Joyce, and sent in a letter dated September 5, 1936. Cats were clearly a common currency between Joyce and his grandson. In early August 1936, Joyce sent Stephen “a little cat filled with sweets”—a kind of Trojan cat meant to outwit grown-ups. A few weeks later, Joyce penned a letter from Copenhagen that begins “Alas! I cannot send you a Copenhagen cat because there are no cats in Copenhagen.” The letter reveals the modernist master at his most playful, yet Joyce’s Copenhagen has a keen, anti-authoritarian quality that transcends the mere whimsy of a children’s story. Only recently rediscovered, this marks the inaugural U.S. publication of The Cats of Copenhagen, a treasure for readers of all ages. A rare addition to Joyce’s known body of work, it is a joy to see this exquisite story in print at last.
James Joyce [1882-1941] is best known for his experimental use of language and his exploration of new literary methods. His subtle yet frank portrayal of human nature, coupled with his mastery of language, made him one of the most influential novelists of the 20th century. Joyce’s use of “stream-of-consciousness” reveals the flow of impressions, half thoughts, associations, hesitations, impulses, as well as the rational thoughts of his characters. The main strength of his masterpiece novel, Ulysses (1922) lies in the depth of character portrayed using this technique. Joyce’s other major works include Dubliners, a collection of short stories that portray his native city, a semi-autobiographical novel called A Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man (1916), and Finnegan’s Wake (1939).
James Joyce was born in Dublin on February 2, 1882. He was the oldest of ten children in a family which, after brief prosperity, collapsed into poverty. Nonetheless, he was educated at the best Jesuit schools and then at University College, Dublin, where he gave proof of his extraordinary talent.
In 1902, following his graduation, he went to Paris, thinking he might attend medical school there, but he soon gave up attending lectures and devoted himself to writing poems and prose sketches, and formulating an "aesthetic system'." Recalled to Dublin in April 1903 because of the fatal illness of his mother, he circled slowly towards his literary career. During the summer of 1904 he met a young woman from Galway, Nora Barnacle, and persuaded her to go with him to the Continent, where he planned to teach English.The young couple spent a few months in Pola (now in Yugoslavia), then in 1905 moved to Trieste, where, except for seven months in Rome and three trips to Dublin, they lived until June 1915. They had two children, a son and a daughter. His first book, the poems of Chamber Music, was published in London in 1907, and Dubliners, a book of stories, in 1914. Italy's entrance into the First World War obliged Joyce to move to Zürich, where he remained until 1919. During this period he published A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916) and Exiles, a play (1918).
After a brief return to Trieste following the armistice, Joyce determined to move to Paris so as to arrange more easily for the publication of Ulysses, a book which he had been working on since 1914. It was, in fact, published on his birthday in Paris, in 1922, and brought him international fame. The same year he began work on Finnegan's Wake, and though much harassed by eye troubles, and deeply affected by his daughter's mental illness, he completed and published that book in 1939. After the outbreak of the Second World War, he went to live in Unoccupied France, then managed to secure permission in December 1940 to return to Zürich. Joyce died there six weeks later, on 13 January 1941, and was buried in the Fluntern Cemetery.