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James Joyce children's book is finally unveiled

10th February 2012

A children's book written by James Joyce has finally seen the light of day, over 75 years after it was created by the Irish novelist.

The Cats of Copenhagen was written for his grandson Stephen in 1936 and has never been read by members of the public until now, though anyone wanting to get their hands on one of the 200 limited edition copies will have to part with around GBP 250 to do so.

Publisher Anastasia Herbert explained that the tale is a 'younger sister' to Joyce's children's book The Cat and the Devil, reflecting the writer's lighter side and 'absurdist' sense of humour.

However, she noted that the story - written while Joyce was in Denmark and his four-year-old grandson was in France - addressed some serious issues of the time.

'For an adult reader, and no doubt for a very clever child, The Cats of Copenhagen reads as an anti-establishment text, critical of fat-cats and some authority figures, and it champions the exercise of common sense, individuality and free will,' Ms Herbert added.

The book's publication has been the subject of much debate, however; although Joyce's published works entered the public domain this year, the Zurich James Joyce Foundation has argued that his unpublished works are not subject to the same terms.

Fritz Senn, a spokesman for the foundation, claimed it had been 'completely overlooked and ignored' and never granted permission for the book to be published.

However, Ms Herbert claimed that any attempt to assert right on the document is 'preposterous'.

'The book was conceived not as a commercial venture, but as a carefully crafted tribute to a rather different Joyce - the family man and grandfather who was a fine storyteller,' she added.

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