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I am a cat!

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
This is the current book I am reading, a departure from the norm but certainly in keeping with the topic of this whole site like no other that I know of in adult literature.

In I Am a Cat, a supercilious feline narrator describes the lives of a set of middle class Japanese. Amongst these are Mr. Sneaze[1] (literally translated from Chinno Kushami, 珍野苦沙弥, in the original Japanese) and family (the cat's owners), Sneaze's garrulous and irritating friend Waverhouse (Meitei, 迷亭), and the young scholar Avalon Coldmoon (Mizushima Kangetsu, 水島寒月) with his will-he-won't-he marriage to the businessman's spoilt daughter, Opula Goldfield (Kaneda Tomiko, 金田富子). After two years chronicling the foibles of these foolish humans and the general superiority of cats, the nameless protagonist gets drunk and drowns in a water barrel.
I Am a Cat is satire on Japanese society in the time of the Meiji Emperor. Among its major themes are the period's uneasy mix of new Western ideas and Japanese traditions, and the aping of Western customs. The novel is striking for its modernity.
The book first appeared as a set of ten installments in the literary journal Hototogisu. Sōseki had originally only intended to write the short story that forms the first chapter of I Am a Cat. He was persuaded to contribute further installments by Takahama Kyoshi, one of the editors of Hototogisu. The episodic nature in which it was written may account for the stylistic incongruities between the earlier and later chapters.
Note that the title of the novel suffers in translation. In the original, it derives much of its humor from the fact that it uses pompous, formal wording wholly inappropriate to a housecat – the idiom used is that of a member of a high-born family; a colloquial translation would read "We are a Cat", using the English royal plural form.
post #2 of 7
That sounds really interesting. I think I shall add it to my Christmas list, thanks!
post #3 of 7
I love this book. It's even funnier now that I'm a college professor--the cat is a stuffy intellectual, just like his English-teacher master.
Hifalutin language alternates with slapstick comedy in a surprisingly universal tale (at least universal for pretentious academics).
post #4 of 7
And there is an American book actually called WE ARE THE CAT, using the British royal 'we'.
It appears to be amusing.
The Japanese book is considered a landmark novel in that country.
post #5 of 7
Originally Posted by Satai View Post
That sounds really interesting. I think I shall add it to my Christmas list, thanks!
yea, i also think that would be something to read
post #6 of 7
I AM A CAT is not a cat book per se. It's in the same league as GULLIVER'S TRAVELS; human society is analyzed from a non human viewpoint. While the focus of the first two sections is twentieth century Japan, the last book has the nameless cat narrator analyzing human philosophy and the meaning of life and death.

It's hilarious if you are in academe.
post #7 of 7
Thanks, it looks good!
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