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The Cats of Copenhagen

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  193 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
The Cats of Copenhagen was first written for James Joyce’s most beloved audience, his only grandson Stephen James Joyce, 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, Jo ...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published October 2012 by Scribner/Simon & Schuster (first published 1936)
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May 26, 2016 Darwin8u rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
C'est n'est pas un chat


A thin book about fat cats,
Copenhagen, policemen,
letters, letterboxes, fish,
buttermilk, young boys with
red bicycles, and soft beds.

It is a story filched using
exactly 230 words;
mixing dozens of fonts
on 20 rough cut pages,
matched with 15 ink cartoons.

This is a literary lark that
spins with the absurdity of all --
all while teasing the moon, oh,
and it holds my favorite caricature
of a relaxed James Joyce.

This book was first a letter
written and mailed by Joyce,
to his on
Mar 29, 2016 Ilse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: cat lovers
Shelves: 2015, reviewed

19 sentences of jocular feline witticism with an anarchistic touch cat lover Joyce sent his grandson from Denmark in 1936 (instead of a sweet-stuffed cat). Its smooth pertness and subtle tackling of authorities one can do without represent a charming read, a few minutes of delight.
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Apr 11, 2014 Nathan "N.R." Gaddis marked it as i-want-money
Better than the Eliot cat book?

Probably not as better than the Theroux kiddie books.

Dec 06, 2014 Aloha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Took me 5 minutes to read. Whimsical and delightful.
Anastasia Herbert
The story is pure Joyce: a fascinating, quirky and highly condensed political satire in the Swiftian mode, written for adults and children. The first edition published by Ithys Press of Dublin, Ireland (Feb 2012) is expertly handset and letterpress printed by Michael Caine in an expressive array of late 19th and early 20th Century typefaces and is illustrated with highly inventive pen-and-ink drawings by Casey Sorrow. The Scribner/Simon&Schuster edition (Oct 2012) is an attractive small-form ...more
Apr 27, 2013 Ben rated it really liked it
A short little read from a letter Joyce wrote to his grandson, Stephen. He begins: "Alas! I cannot send you a Copenhagen cat because there are no cats in Copenhagen." In a playful fashion, Joyce proceeds to tell a short story that can be enjoyed by children and critically analyzed by adults as a commentary on tyranny. The illustrations are fun, too, especially the one representing Joyce himself.
Pavel Beneš
Sep 03, 2013 Pavel Beneš rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lettering
Knížka samo o sobě je skvělá, navíc tím, že každá jazyková mutace má svébytnou grafiku, typografii, práci s barvou i formátem. Já českou mutaci téhle knížku dělám pro edici NOS (AlbatrosMedia) a nemůžu se nepochlubit reakcí majitele autorských práv:
It looks marvelous! Congratulations!
Anastasia Herbert
Strawberry Beds
Dublin 20, Ireland

To potěší.
Fiery Jack
Nov 18, 2014 Fiery Jack rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, 2014
I read this while I was having lunch today and was literally laughing out loud. It's so wonderfully quirky, funny, and charming. I loved it! The illustrations are fantastic, which is a nice bonus. This is the perfect remedy for the doldrums.
Nov 03, 2012 Sean rated it liked it
"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 it 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 accompany
Jan 06, 2013 Sean rated it it was amazing
I won this book in a contest which I had entirely forgotten about. Since then it has only brought me joy and laughter. I have opened this up when I have been sad or down and it has had the miraculous ability to cheer me up. In these moments I do not take Joyce's work seriously and treat it like a children's story, which this publication clearly is asking you to do, as it is illustrated in a beautifully simple manner. However, I can see where the case for extreme depth could be. This book will pl ...more
Nov 03, 2012 Kasandra rated it really liked it
A charming and odd little book with fantastic illustrations and typesetting and a strange story, very thought-provoking. One of a kind! Makes me want to finally sit down this winter and read Ulysses. This is a VERY short little story. Even for a kids' book, it's short. But it's like nothing else you'll have in your library!
A very strange book. One of James Joyce's 2 books for young children written for his grandson. Both grandfather and grandson shared an affinity for cats.

However, this book doesn't make much sense. Cats, mice, policecats, mice on bikes delivering mail...

Nov 25, 2014 Jen rated it really liked it
So weird, but I couldn't help buying it when I was in Dublin. :-)
Dec 08, 2016 Fence rated it liked it
Shelves: male-author
There isn't a lot to this, but I doubt it was ever intended to by published. Still, the illustrations are amusing and it is nice to be able to finish a work by Joyce in 5 mins :)
Oct 30, 2016 Byurakn rated it it was amazing
This 19 sentence book summarizes Copenhagen in a way than no other book does. It is Danish and funny and straight to the point.
Jan 03, 2017 Chris rated it really liked it
I'm not quite what I thought this would be. But I wasn't expecting it to be this. It's actually quite funny, even for adults.
David Schaafsma
Sep 21, 2015 David Schaafsma rated it liked it
Shelves: picturebooks
A children's book by James Joyce! One of two children's books created from letters he wrote to his grandson, later in his life, probably not intended for publication, culled from a box of his letters and random writings found in 2006. `Once Joyce had sent his grandson a cat stuffed with candy. So the first line/premise is that there are no cats in Copenhagen. Silly grandfather story that does get at his irreverence and humor and issues with authority and politics, for adult Joyce readers. A find ...more
Will Abel
Apr 30, 2014 Will Abel rated it liked it
My first James Joyce! I know, I know. Start small, work up to the bigger books.
Anywho, I know nothing of the political situation where he was at the time this was written, so the satire falls flat. Fortunately the story itself is fun enough to entertain anyway.
The illustrations are hilarious and the typesetting is very unique and fits the the illustrations and the story well. I actually likes the typesetting better than the illustrations.
I was somehow expecting more book for the price though.
Mar 29, 2013 i! rated it liked it
Shelves: joyce
Interesting to note that in their later days Joyce and Eliot both gravitated toward cat-themed works for children. Feline-themed satires for family. I'm not a fan of either, but that this is too short to adapt into a musical is surely a few points in its favor. Who knows, maybe we'll discover something by Pound that'll confirm that he was a "cat that walk[ed] by himself" but will toss out the "unsafe for children" part.
Casey Sorrow's illustrations are great.
Brian Ouellette
Nov 05, 2012 Brian Ouellette rated it liked it
The illustrations by Casey Sorrow really make this children's book stand out. A kind of creepy mixed with whimsical that lends an appropriate tone to this children's book. The typesetting, while unique, smacks a bit too much of Microsoft WordArt to really be appreciated.
Nov 20, 2013 An rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Groots noch grandioos verhaal, maar geestig is het wel. Eenvoudig, open van geest en absurd, met illustraties die met hun interpretaties de absurditeit van de tekst alleen maar onderstrepen. Een klein feestje.
Nov 04, 2012 Jen rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads
This book only consists of about 15 sentences. I recommend it to anyone who truly loves James Joyce and wants to read up on his lesser writings.

*I received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads.
Edward Sullivan
Feb 15, 2014 Edward Sullivan rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
A slight bit of witty fun with cartoon illustrations that effectively capture the spirit of Joycean playfulness.
Oct 24, 2012 Miri rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens-books
I love the story behind this, about Joyce's relationship with his only grandson and the Trojan cat he sent him full of treats. A fun story.
Mar 11, 2013 Jen rated it liked it
Shelves: pb
This is a very weird book, like James Joyce in general. The font is interesting. The pictures are unique but match the story.
Dec 22, 2012 JK rated it liked it
Shelves: childrens
That's right. You read that correctly. James Joyce's book for children. Well, child to be specific. There are only two children's books penned by this man, both were written for his only grandson.
Jun 04, 2013 Janey rated it really liked it
A funny, odd little (very little) tale -- a passing fancy, really -- enhanced by Casey Sorrow's charming, vaguely creepy illustrations of cat-people.
Alana rated it really liked it
Dec 29, 2012
Anouk rated it really liked it
Jun 17, 2014
Alexandra Windle
Alexandra Windle rated it really liked it
Mar 26, 2014
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Goodreads Librari...: Cats of Copenhagen (Scribner Edition) 4 148 Jul 23, 2012 04:33PM  
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James Joyce, Irish novelist, noted for his experimental use of language in such works as Ulysses (1922) and Finnegans Wake (1939). Joyce's technical innovations in the art of the novel include an extensive use of interior monologue; he used a complex network of symbolic parallels drawn from the mythology, history, and literature, and created a unique language of invented words, puns, and allusions ...more
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