Irish publisher Little Island will publish James Joyce's 1936 children's book The Cat and the Devil, with new illustrations by Brazilian artist Lelis.
The long out-of-print picture book was originally written as a letter to Joyce’s grandson Stephen, and is a retelling of a French folk tale given an Irish, Joycean twist. The synopsis reads: "The devil appears in the French town of Beaugency, offering to build a bridge for the people – but for a high price. The local mayor tricks the devil into giving them the bridge for free. In Joyce’s retelling, the mayor is named after Dublin’s much-loved, legendary lord mayor Alfie Byrne. Lelis’s playful watercolour illustrations show the devil with the face of Joyce himself."
Matthew Parkinson-Bennett, publisher, said: "As a Dublin-based children’s publisher it feels right that we should bring this book by Dublin’s greatest writer back into print. The story of a cunning mayor tricking the devil by exploiting his fondness for cats has a mischievous humour about it that must have appealed to Joyce, subversive spirit that he was. The use of Alfie Byrne’s name is a lovely touch which resonates with Dubliners.
"The Cat and the Devil also gives us a glimpse of an intimate side of Joyce we don’t often see: the doting grandfather, addressing his grandson as ‘my dear Stevie’ and signing off as ‘Nonno’, the Italian name by which Joyce’s grandchildren knew him.
"The 100th anniversary of the publication of Ulysses will be widely celebrated in 2022 and as well as being of interest to older Joyce aficionados, this book will provide something for children to enjoy alongside Joyce’s more demanding adult works."
Little Island will published The Cat and the Devil on 2nd September 2021.
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