I Am A Cat – Soseki Natsume
January 18, 2010 § 9 Comments
I find that there is nothing as hard as trying to understand the psychology of male humans.
I couldn’t help it. That quote there is hilarious. And oh-so-true. (Sorry boys!)
I Am A Cat is basically a story narrated by a nameless cat. This nameless cat unwittingly roams into the home of a schoolteacher, and from there on, the cat tells us about his observations of his master, and the very interesting and funny characters who come to visit.
I read the book over an entire month. Towards the second half of the book, or somewhere at the end of volume 2, and beginning of volume 3, I kind of ‘forgot’ what volume 1 was all about. So despite this being a rather thick book, I’m afraid my thoughts on it are going to be very short.
What I really liked about the book was how fresh it felt. I mean, it’s not every day that we get to see the world we know through a cat’s perspective. And this cat is no ordinary cat either. Somewhere along the lines, he decides that he’s more human than feline! I rather enjoyed the book a lot more when it was the cat doing the thinking, rather than when he was just observing what the humans were saying or doing.
The cat is also one that thinks quite highly of himself. I had to laugh when I read this:
Nobody, then, should be so insulting as to read while lying down or to read five lines all at once with the feet stretched out. When Liu Tsung-Yuan read the works of Han T’ui-Chih, a Chinese politician and a man of letters, he always made it a rule to wash his hands and to purify them in rose water first. In reading my work, however, I would only like to ask you to be enthusiastic enough to buy your own copies; do not borrow my books from your friends.
This book reminded me a little of Jonathan Swift somehow. Not as satirical as A Modest Proposal, which I loved. But I think this book did manage to drive home some points with regards to Japanese society.
Most of the characters were actually quite quite ridiculous. Their priorities were all wrong, their thought processes were all over the place. And really, though the cat was definitely one very intelligent cat, he was equally ridiculous. All of this in a good way.
My favourite quote of the book is on page 1. It was something I read to every single person who asked me, “So what are you reading?”
This was probably the first time I had a good look at a so-called “human being”. What impressed me as being most strange still remains deeply imbedded in my mind: the face which should have been covered with hair was a slippery thing similar to what I now know to be a teakettle.
For: Japanese Literature Challenge 3, Japanese Literature Read-Along with Tanabata