I am a Cat. As yet I have no name.
I Am a Cat by Sōseki Natsume began as a short story, which makes up chapter one of Volume one, but due to its success was extended into a three-volume book that is now a Japanese classic. Highly readable, I Am a Cat is narrated by a nameless stray who observes human nature. Amusing and delightfully originally, the satire and allegory are presently beyond me after only reading Volume one but I am looking forward to delving in deeper and learning more about the history, culture and society of the Meiji era (the installments of I Am a Cat first appeared between 1905 and 1906).
I Am a Cat is a scathing, observed piece that is very much a comedy of manners and intellect. The narrator -let's call him Neko- ingratiates himself into the household of an English teacher and his family with many scholarly friends of the schoolteacher visiting regularly and telling tall tales that the cat recounts. The device of cat as narrator is used cleverly as he is omniscient in his pride of listening place in a lap, privy to household conversations, and also, as a cat, can sneak undetected into other houses to eavesdrop on his light paw-steps.
Of course I am a cat-lover and I love to read about cats. Truth be told, I am a little cat obsessed and I highly enjoy the cat's meanderings and antics. I thought that this book would be the perfect companion read to I Am a Cat and I am coveting it accordingly.
I am enjoying the accessible, gentle and witty style of I Am a Cat and look forward to the subsequent volumes. Discussion of the first volume can be read at the dedicated read-along page at In Spring it is the Dawn.
A particularly favourite quote from this volume:
"He has no secret vices, but he is totally abandoned in the way he buys book after book, never to read a single one. I wouldn't mind if he used his head and bought in moderation, but no. Whenever the mood takes him, he ambles off to the biggest bookshop in the city and brings back home as many books as chance to catch his fancy. Then, at the end of the month, he adopts an attitude of complete detachment. At the end of last year, for instance, I had a terrible time coping with the bill that had been accumulating month after month."