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The Cat and the Devil by James Joyce, long out of print as a children’s book, is being brought back into circulation by Irish publisher Little Island.

Originally written as a letter to Joyce’s grandson Stephen, it has previously been published in picturebook from but has been out of print for some time. With gorgeous illustrations by Brazilian artist Lelis, Little Island are making this children’s story by Ireland’s greatest author available once more, for children and Joyce enthusiasts alike.

The Cat and the Devil is a retelling of a French folk tale given an Irish, Joycean twist. 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 at Little Island, 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 publish The Cat and the Devil with illustrations by Lelis on 2 September 2021.

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