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I am a Cat (Tuttle classics) [Paperback]

Soseki Natsume , Aiko Ito
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
RRP: 18.99
Price: 12.91 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product details

  • Paperback: 696 pages
  • Publisher: Tuttle Publishing; New edition edition (23 April 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080483265X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804832656
  • Product Dimensions: 20.5 x 13.5 x 4.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 87,571 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Cat lovers will delight in the thoughts of a cat whose particular joy in life is commenting on the folly of human beings. Based on a nameless cat's observations of upper-middle-class Japanese society of the Meiji era, the essence of I AM A CAT is its humour and sardonic truths. Written over the course of 1904-06, this book is full of acerbic wit as it follows the whimsical adventures of a world-weary stray kitten.

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I AM A CAT. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best a cat can get 18 July 2006
When Natsume Soseki, student of both the east and west, first wrote "I am a Cat", it was intended as a short series of satirical articles. When its run was completed, such was the clamour for more that Soseki was moved to write further chapters. And it is obvious from reading them that as the collection advances, the cat, our nameless and defiant narrator, loses more feline qualities and acquires pronounced human sensibilities, as a result. However, to say that this in any way decreases the inherent humour, intelligence and acerbic observations made would be a falsehood. This is an immensely entertaining work, astute and acute, and deserves far more widespread acclaim than it at present commands. Any student of Japanese history or literature should add this high up their reading list.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
By Greshon
There is nothing else like this book. The only other book I can say this for is Life of Pi. This novel is huge, but it's so enjoyable to read that you will just breeze through it. Whilst reading it you start to feel like you belong to the family, and the neighborhood, in which it is set. The episodic plot is not much more than a loosely strung together collection of occurrences. Like many Japanese books, mood is all important, and things happen primarily to create or modify mood rather than to further the action. The narrator, who is a cat, is a very tricky character indeed, and I suspect whole essays could be written on him. Don't trust him.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A smug kitten takes on Japanese society 12 Feb 2004
By A Customer
In Soseki Natsume's "I Am a Cat", a nameless feline narrator satirises Japanese society in the time of the Meiji Emperor, the era when the country re-opened contact with the outside world. Much of the subject matter concerns the period's uneasy mix between new Western ideas and traditional Japanese sensibilities.
The novel lacks any particularly strong plot as such, reading more like a set of short stories; indeed it first appeared as a series of installments in a literary magazine. However, "I Am a Cat" is frequently very funny and the modernity of the writing is striking given the book appeared in the early years of the 20th century. It was an interesting and amusing read, although I feel it might have been more rewarding if I'd had a better knowledge of society it describes.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful 5 Oct 2010
Kin'nosuke Natsume, here writing under the name Soseki Natsume produced something unique and truly wonderful when he wrote this. The first chapter of this book was what originally Natsume had intentions of only writing for a magazine. When that piece was published it received huge critical acclaim and was loved by the reading public, consequently leading to the result that Natsume was persuaded to write more.

This translation has been done by Aiko Ito and Graeme Wilson, and they would be the first to admit that this does indeed lose something in translation. In the original Japanese the cat does come across as more pompous that in English, but even so this is still magnificent. What readers should first be aware of is that this is not some fluffy tale of a cat getting up to antics or one of those books produced for cat lovers such as Cat Yoga etc., also that in truth rather than a conventional novel this is really a series of vignettes.

Natsume, who was highly educated has written something here that is humorous, satirical and in places allegorical. Seeing life from what a cat observes you also get his opinions as well as the discussions he hears whilst sitting in his master's room. Without sounding snobbish I would say that this book is good for anyone who enjoys reading, but the better read you are, and if you understand any Chinese philosophy would make your reading experience that much more rewarding because you would get some of the more obscure allusions made.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars cats life 29 Jun 2010
By emmay
I have to say I really enjoyed this book. The beauty of it is that life as we live it is seen through a cats eyes, showing up how silly things mean so much to us. The little details that the cat sees in our daily life and the way the author interprets them is as revevant now as 100 years ago. A really wise book. Enjoy
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars feline philosophy at its best 23 Jan 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book intersperses some lovely and very feline description of being a cat - the nameless cat asking for his breakfast in a tone he calculates 'should make a wanderer in a strange land feel his heart is being torn in pieces', being ignored is just the same in modern day Britain as it was in 1900s Japan, with a philosophical narrative. You need to set aside any pre-conceptions about whether cats think, write, read, and in the case have a very high degree of knowledge, and simply enjoy what a 'mere cat' might have to say if he could. I found the psychological questions (such as why humans need to write in journals and cats don't) interesting, and a new take on what it is that makes us human (or feline). The observations are witty, at times a little long winded, though our narrator apologises for this, and astute. I found it a thoughtful read, with many bits I re-read, and just a few I skipped. I would say its a book that you do not need to necessarily like cats to read (though that makes it very pleasurable), but at a quarter of a million words you do need to like reading. An interest in people, culture and philosophy also helps. I would say it is about 20% about being a cat, and 80% about people.
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