Cats of Copenhagen by jjqblog
February 8, 2012, 1:11 PM
Filed under: Uncategorized

The Ithys Press of Dublin has just published a little-known story by Joyce entitled “The Cats of Copenhagen” in a fine press edition.  (Very fine, actually: the cheapest copy available coming in at €300.)  This short work of fiction was written in a letter to Joyce’s grandson Stephen in 1936 and found amid the large amount of material given by Hans Jahnke to the Zurich James Joyce Foundation in 2005.

As the Irish Times reports, however, the publication has been met with significant protest by the Foundation.  Its Director, Frtiz Senn, has written that “the Zürich James Joyce Foundation was left completely in the dark, it never permitted, tolerated, condoned or connived at this publication, and it rigidly dissociates itself from it.”  A response from the Ithys Press arguing that no permission was necessary appears on their site.

Although the story might be in the public domain in some jurisdictions, the dispute nevertheless reveals the difficulties and tensions that continue to attend the questions of ownership and intellectual property that still bedevil Joyce’s work.  No doubt as the post-copyrightgold rush on Joycean archive begins, further such disputes will arise.


1 Comment so far
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The question of ownership in a post-copyright era certainly does raise many serious questions for scholars and for depositories (whose interests, we should remember, are often quite disparate).
For example:
1) How do and how will holding institutions of public domain materials manage access to such artefacts in their care;
2) Who qualifies as a ‘bona fide’ scholar? What is the criteria by which a bona fide interest in such materials is judged?;
3) More importantly, is it really only bona fide ‘scholars’ who have the right to see, interpret, adapt, and publish from works in these archives? In otherwise, are such public domain archives to remain the preserve of the elite, of the select few academics who make use of such materials for personal and professional gain and/or to serve the interests of an extremely small community and specialist industry?
4) What of the rights of artists, dramatists, musicians, craftspeople, and publishers to bring such works to a different, new and larger public’s attention and appreciation?

Comment by Ithys Press

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