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. Joyces 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. Joyces 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 Finnegans Wake (1939).