I Am A Cat (Three Volumes in One)
By Soseki Natsume
Translated By Aiko Ito and Graeme Wilson
First Published in 1905
This is an amusing yet curious story of humans set in a Japanese society of the early Meiji era told by a nameless and seemingly unloved cat – the title character of the story. The cat is a highly opinionated creature ready to throw sarcastic comments about humans and their faults. What is extraordinary about this cat is it’s above average intelligence and which according to it, the ability to read human thoughts. I am no cat lover but the first volume made me want to adopt the creature as my own or even just stroke its lovely fur. I was greatly enamored by it at the same time disdained the human behavior. However, as it continues to berates human faults and peculiarities, it has seemingly become like them – proud and pompous. When it points out ridiculous culture (may they be western or japanese) and behavior, I was skeptical. However I became irritated with the cat, I cannot just dismiss its observations. True, the human character is a complex study with its peculiarities and absurd behavior. Soseki’s characters are still very true today as they were centuries ago – pompous, vain and selfish humans.
With Soseki’s knowledge of western culture and Chinese Literature, an amusing, nameless cat, and a handful of colorful human characters is a satirical novel full of humorous criticisms.