Joyce children's story published in Dublin to dismay in Zürich


A NEWLY discovered story for children written by James Joyce has been published for the first time in Dublin, priced at €300.

The story was written on September 5th, 1936, for Joyce’s grandson, Stephen, and has been given the title The Cats of Copenhagen.

It was written from Copenhagen, which Joyce was visiting at the time. It is a somewhat shorter companion piece to Joyce’s other well-known story for children , The Cat and the Devil,also written for Stephen.

However, the publication of the new children’s story by a Dublin publishing house has been criticised by the Zürich James Joyce Foundation, which owns the original manuscript of the story. It has dissociated itself from the publication by Ithys Press in Dublin.

The story forms part of a large cache of Joyce manuscripts that was donated in 2005 to the Zürich foundation by the son of Giorgio Joyce’s second wife, Asta Jahnke-Osterwalder. Giorgio was the father of Stephen, and the son of James Joyce.

These documents had all been in the possession of Giorgio. His stepson Hans Jahnke, who donated them to the foundation, died last year.

In a statement, the foundation said it “was left completely in the dark” about the Dublin publication and that “it never permitted, tolerated, condoned or connived in this publication, and it rigidly dissociates itself from it”.

It was “dismayed to learn that a copy of the letter to young Stephen Joyce of 1936 must have been used for its publication in book form. The foundation was never approached or informed, it was never asked for permission” and it had only just learned of the publication.

It added that “the donor stipulated that the original material (letters, notes and drafts, etc) be made accessible to researchers. The foundation has allowed serious bona-fide scholars to look at its documents.” It concluded that “the Zürich James Joyce Foundation’s policy has been one of openness and trust and it would be reluctant in the future to regard visiting scholars and researchers with basic suspicion”.

Ithys is a newly established fine press publishing house based in Dublin. Its elaborate illustrated edition of The Cats of Copenhagenis priced at €300 for a standard copy.

The publisher behind the press is Anastasia Herbert, who, under the name Stacey Herbert, is a well-known Joyce specialist who was involved in organising the National Library’s “James Joyce and Ulysses” exhibition of 2004. The only other title so far in the Ithys Press catalogue is Love & Curiosity – The Cosmosby Danis Rose and John O’Hanlon.

In a statement, Ithys said the unpublished works of James Joyce were now – since January 1st – in the public domain. The attempt by “the Zürich Joyce Centre” (sic) proprietarily to assert some right on the document was “preposterous”. “The said centre has no rights in law in the copyright of the papers donated (given free) by Dr Jahnke.”

“As there was no requirement for ‘permission’ for the publication of Cats from the Zurich Centre, on legal advice none was sought: to seek permission can be construed as prima facie evidence that permission is required. As to informing the centre, this would hardly have made sense,” it said.