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I Am a Cat

I Am a Cat
File:Tuttle 1992 So-sekiNatsume IAmaCat cover.JPG
Author Natsume Sōseki
Original title Wagahai wa neko de aru (吾輩は猫である?)
Translator Aiko Ito and Graeme Wilson
Country Japan
Language Japanese
Genre Satirical novel
Publisher Tuttle Publishing
Publication date
Published in English
Media type Print (hardback & paperback)
ISBN ISBN 978-0-8048-3265-6
OCLC 49703480
LC Class PL812.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 house cat, not feral.

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

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 translation by Aiko Ito and Graeme Wilson.

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