I Am a Cat

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I Am a Cat
Tuttle 1992 So-sekiNatsume IAmaCat cover.JPG
AuthorNatsume Sōseki
Original titleWagahai wa Neko de Aru (吾輩は猫である)
TranslatorAiko Ito and Graeme Wilson
GenreSatirical novel
PublisherTuttle Publishing
Publication date
Published in English
Media typePrint (hardback & paperback)
LC ClassPL812.A8 W313 2002

I Am a Cat (Japanese: 吾輩は猫である, Hepburn: Wagahai wa Neko de Aru) is a satirical novel written in 1905–1906 by Natsume Sōseki, about Japanese society during the Meiji period (1868–1912); particularly, the uneasy mix of Western culture and Japanese traditions, and the aping of Western customs.

Sōseki's original title, Wagahai wa Neko de Aru, uses very high-register phrasing more appropriate to a nobleman, conveying a grandiloquence and self-importance intended to sound ironic, since the speaker, an anthropomorphised domestic cat, is a regular house cat of a teacher, and not of a high ranking noble as the high-register suggests.

The book was first published in ten installments in the literary journal Hototogisu. At first, Sōseki intended only to write the short story that constitutes the first chapter of I Am a Cat. However, Takahama Kyoshi, one of the editors of Hototogisu, persuaded Sōseki to serialize the work, which evolved stylistically as the installments progressed. Nearly all the chapters can stand alone as discrete works.

In the mid-1970s, the prolific screenwriter Toshio Yasumi adapted Sōseki's novel into a screenplay. Kon Ichikawa directed the film, which premiered in Japanese cinemas in 1975. The novel was also adapted into a film released in 1936, and an anime television special aired in 1982.

Plot summary[edit]

In I Am a Cat, a supercilious, feline narrator describes the lives of an assortment of middle-class Japanese people: Mr. Sneaze[1] ("sneeze" is misspelled on purpose, but literally translated from Chinno Kushami (珍野苦沙弥), in the original Japanese) and family (the cat's owners), Sneaze's garrulous and irritating friend Waverhouse (迷亭, Meitei), and the young scholar Avalon Coldmoon (水島寒月, Mizushima Kangetsu) with his will-he-won't-he courtship of the businessman's spoiled daughter, Opula Goldfield (金田富子, Kaneda Tomiko).


  1. ^ This is the spelling used in the abridged translation by Aiko Itō and Graeme Wilson.

External links[edit]