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I Am a Cat: Three Volumes in One Paperback – September 1, 2001
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Top Customer Reviews
But this one, well. Heh.
Okay, consider this:
"I've just been visiting a businessman and, according to him, the only way to succeed is to practice the 'triangled technique': try to escape your obligations, annihilate your kindly feelings, and geld yourself of the sense of shame. Try-an-geld. You get it? Jolly clever, don't you think?"
This is a remark from one of the various intellectual snobs who are dominant characters here. Now if you can't guess, and I suppose several of the reviewers here can't, there is a complicated pun in the original (my wife teaches Japanese literature and deals with the originals, you see). But the point is that it's sort of funny, but really it's just a play on words that's a little too labored to be funny. It's a joke for the sort of intellectual snobs that find this kind of thing amusing. And that's exactly what comes across with this "try-an-geld" thing. Brilliant!
I know a professor who teaches Japanese literature who started working through the original and this translation with his students. At every turn, they found another deft and elegant in-joke turned into a deft and elegant English variant. It's not perfect, but this is as close to a perfect translation as you're ever likely to find.
For those of you who know a lot about literature, consider translating Nabokov -- let's say Lolita or Pale Fire -- into Chinese, a totally uninflected language. Can you say, "pain"? Insanely difficult.Read more ›
I am not in a position to offer an opinion on the translation, however, this book was my introduction to Soseki and I have since read several of his other works in various translations and find this book to be consistent with the style, tone and humor of that emerges from other translations of his writings.
I also found I AM A CAT highly readable. It was originally published serially over many years, and the short vignettes it offers allow one to pick it up and put it down without losing the thread of an overarching story. Additionally, the format of many short stories allows some to be more humorous and other to be more philosophical even poignant and in the best of the stories all three at once. It is a highly imaginative, thoughtful and funny set of stories about human foibles.
Set in the early 1900's during a turbulent period of Japan's history, (Japan was at war with Russia and undergoing much social change at the time too), the book is written from the point of view of a cat that was taken in by a teacher of the English Reader. The cat observes various aspects of human life, endeavour and habit, and makes some cutting remarks at times about human stupidity. Don't be fooled by the cat's reference to his "Master". It is a term of convenience, it would seem, and not one indicative of any felt humility on the part of the cat.
The cat makes astute and rather funny observations about human intellectual and artistic endeavour, along with anything else that is in his view. That includes the act of bathing. All along, the cat offers his viewpoint, opinions, advice and general commentary, as well as some deeper philosophical or religious thought. Basically, the cat takes a stab at just about everything. I particularly laughed at his description of the English language. The cat just doesn't hold back.
At over 600 pages, this book is a solid read, but one worth the effort to get through. It is a great book, witty in its observations, cuttingly accurate at times, (even in our own time, it might be said), and just generally a fantastic read. As an added bonus, cat owners will see much of their own pets in the cat of this book. "Master" just isn't the right term.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Quite different style from "Kokoro" by the same author. Narrated by a nameless cat, a sharp and cynical observer/commentator, the story of the main character, an pedantic... Read morePublished 1 month ago by whj
The cat is the narrator of the story about his observations of the humans in his life. Read it twice right away. Loved it. A Japanese classic, read around the world.Published 2 months ago by Momma Cat
This is hilarious. The author mocks every part of Japanese society - scathingly, and hilariously. There were times I was reading on the train for my commute and literaly laughing... Read morePublished 3 months ago by ejw2010
So well done, enjoying rereading this after many years. Love the dry humor and sendup of human behaviors.Published 4 months ago by Sok11
This is called "wagahai wa neko de aru" in Japanese, which is a very fancy, professorial sort of way to speak. It's funny because of that. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Dharma
Classic work by Soseki, was really a joy to read. Interesting perspective as through the vision of the cat; with engaging characters and neighborhood/event descriptions. Read morePublished 10 months ago by David C. Arnold