Review: The Cats of Copenhagen

A review of James Joyce’s The Cats of Copenhagen :

“Alas! I cannot send you a Copenhagen cat because there are NO cats in Copenhagen.”

Originally a letter to Joyce’s grandson, The Cats of Copenhagen was only recently discovered, and this marks its first publication. Short as itjames joyce, the cats of copenhagen, picture book, casey sorrow illustrator is, the decision to publish this little entertainment was a worthy one. The Cats of C. is an intriguing glimpse of a playful and human Joyce that readers of his novels may not have seen but will immediately recognize.

The dozen or so quirky, modern illustrations accompanying Joyce’s lines do a great job enlivening the comedy and filling out the book (which would otherwise have been too bare and overpriced, I’m afraid). I worry that some will want to look for and say profound things about this little work–how strong the prose, how tight and self-conscious the plot, this or that about the Swiftian mode–but that would be pretentious and miss the point. This letter to a child is not Ulysses; it is meant purely to delight, and it did.

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