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I Am a Cat: Three Volumes in One by Soseki…

I Am a Cat: Three Volumes in One (edition 2001)

by Soseki Natsume, Aiko Ito (Translator), Graeme Wilson (Translator)

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1,090237,637 (3.59)120
Title:I Am a Cat: Three Volumes in One
Authors:Soseki Natsume
Other authors:Aiko Ito (Translator), Graeme Wilson (Translator)
Info:Tuttle Publishing (2001), Paperback, 656 pages
Collections:Your library

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I Am a Cat by Sōseki Natsume


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» See also 120 mentions

English (16)  Spanish (6)  Catalan (1)  All languages (23)
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
Reviewing this book is complicated for me because I had a fairly wide variety of reactions to it. First of all, I can best describe it as a Japanese version of "Waiting For Godot" although the play is fairly brief and this is a 470 page novel. It also is reminiscent of "La Nausee" by Albert Camus. It is a narration of the absolute absurdity of human beings, as perceived by the narrator, who is a cat without a name. It is filled with Dickensian characters such as Beauchamp Blowlamp, the Goldfields (wealthy snobs), and Mr. Sneaze (a self-absorbed hypochondriac and owner of the unnamed cat), just to name a few. I laughed out loud more times than I can count and sent a list of favorite quotes about cats to my feline loving brother. Witty, existential, uncomfortable, confusing, and profound. Originally published in installments, I can see how the length was irrelevant at the time of the original publication. And frankly, I cannot say what I would cut!! I thought about giving it four stars because it dragged at times, but I ended up giving it five stars because it is unique, because it is thought-provoking around the meaning of existence, because of the marvelous characters and lastly, because I do not often laugh out loud when reading, but the humor in this novel is marvelous and drew me through the slower parts quickly in anticipation of whatever would come next. Tough ending, but it worked. ( )
  hemlokgang | Sep 9, 2014 |
What a meandering read. And what an ending. I enjoyed parts of this book, but never fully cared about any of the characters. This made it harder to get through. I also didn't like the way it changed from being the catlike viewpoint of the cat, to being the anthropomorphised viewpoint of the cat, to finally being a series of observations that happened to be presented as being the viewpoint of the cat. I'm glad I read other works by Sōseki first, because if this had been my first encounter with him, I might have wondered what the fuss was about. ( )
  missizicks | Apr 9, 2014 |
Filosofía oriental felina. Extraordinario. ( )
  darioha | Feb 10, 2014 |
Sōseki si cela dietro la pelliccia e le vibrisse di un gatto, intento a osservare con con ironia e superiorità il Giappone dell'Epoca Meiji, che si apre con estremi un po' modaioli all'occidentalizzazione voluta dalla corte imperiale.
Il gatto, a cui nessuno ha dato un nome, segue le vicende del suo padrone, un professore di inglese, misantropo e sofferente di stomaco, che improvvisa haiku e dipinge acquerelli con scarsi risultati, compra libri che non legge e, se li legge, presto si appisola al tavolo di lavoro. Attorno al professore orbitano altri personaggi, caricature dei tipi intellettuali del tempo, che diventano vittime degli strali dell'io narrante dalle sembianze feline: l’esteta dagli occhiali cerchiati d’oro, che racconta falsità a non finire per darsi un tono; il buddhista zen fanatico e incoerente; il poeta che, su ordinazione, compone poesie d’occasione."Le zampe dei gatti, ovunque si posino, sono così silenziose che non tradiscono mai la loro presenza, quasi calpestassero il cielo o le nuvole. Sono come un gong suonato sott'acqua o un koto pizzicato in una grotta, sono l'intuizione muta e immediata delle delizie della vita. [...] Vado dove voglio, ascolto quel che mi garba, dopodiché tiro fuori la lingua, agito la coda, drizzo i baffi e me ne torno indisturbato a casa." ( )
  Kazegafukuhi | Aug 10, 2013 |
Others have warned that the introduction to this book gives too much away. I agree. Resist the urge to read it, as major events are spelled out within the first page or so.

I read the first volume of this many years ago and, remembering it very fondly, bought this edition of all three volumes in 1 as a little present to myself. Having looked at some reader reviews, I was nervous that the second and third volumes might not stand up to the first. Happily, I found that I enjoyed them just as much. I'm not the kind of person who needs a traditional story arc/plot - just "visiting" with very interesting, well-written characters is enough for me. It doesn't bother me that no one, big, significant thing is worked out across these many pages - several small things happen that are almost always very interesting and often very funny. Sometimes the small things are connected, sometimes not. Much like life, really.

Some reviewers said they didn't know enough about Japanese Meiji period life to get much out of this book. To me, that was irrelevant. Human beings have so many similarities, no matter the era or location, and I was struck by the many concerns we, in the Western world during the early years of the 21st century, have in common with this mishmash of characters in a Japan that was straddling an older, traditional society and the influence of the Western world, at the very beginning of the 20th century. I enjoyed immersing myself in those aspects of the story that were alien to me, learning something new about a foreign culture.

The cat, whose inner thoughts we follow through his first and second years of life, is wonderfully grumpy - practically as curmudgeonly as his un-worldly Master - while also being astoundingly learned and insightful. I was particularly tickled by his extremely high opinion of himself and his abilities both mental - apparently fully justified - and physical - hilariously unjustified, if we consider his one rat-hunting attempt and various other clumsy falls and scrapes.

I will be looking out for more Natsume Sōseki to read on the basis of this one. ( )
  Vivl | Apr 5, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sōseki Natsumeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ito, AikoTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilson, GraemeTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 080483265X, Paperback)

Written over the course of 1904-6, Soseki's comic masterpiece, I Am a Cat, satirizes the follies of upper-middle-class Japanese society during the Meiji era. With acerbic wit and sardonic perspective, it follows the whimsical adventures of a world-weary stray kitten who comments on the follies and foibles of the people around him.

The New Yorker called it "a nonchalant string of anecdotes and wisecracks, told by a fellow who doesn't have a name, and has never caught a mouse, and isn't much good for anything except watching human beings in action..."

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:04:49 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

I Am a Cat, satirizes the follies of upper-middle-class Japanese society during the Meiji era.

(summary from another edition)

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