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Soseki Natsume

I Am a Cat

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“A nonchalant string of anecdotes and wisecracks, told by a fellow who doesn't have a name, and has never caught a mouse, and isn't much good for anything except watching human beings in action…" —The New Yorker
Written over the course of 1904–1906, Soseki Natsume's comic masterpiece, I Am a Cat, satirizes the foolishness of upper-middle-class Japanese society during the Meiji era. With acerbic wit and sardonic perspective, it follows the whimsical adventures of a world-weary stray kitten who comments on the follies and foibles of the people around him.
A classic of Japanese literature, I Am a Cat is one of Soseki's best-known novels. Considered by many as the greatest writer in modern Japanese history, Soseki's I Am a Cat is a classic novel sure to be enjoyed for years to come.
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719 печатни страници
Оригинална публикация
2011
Година на публикуване
2011
Вече чели ли сте я? Какво мислите за нея?
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    Laura de Sotoцитираминалата година
    essential truth and remained deeply impressed. Why should a man so impressionable lead such an oysterish existence? A mere cat such as I cannot possibly understand it. Some say it is the result of a love affair that went wrong; some say it is due to his weak stomach; while others simply state that it’s because he lacks both money and audacity. Whatever the truth, it doesn’t much matter since he’s a person of insufficient importance to affect the history of his period. What is certain is that he did enquire enviously about Coldmoon’s female fiddlers. Coldmoon, looking amused, picked up a sliver of boiled fishpaste in his chopsticks and nipped at it with his remaining front teeth. I was worried lest another should fall out. But this time it was all right.

    “Well, both of them are daughters of good families. You don’t know them,” Coldmoon coldly answered.

    The master drawled “Is—th-a-t—,” but omitted the final “so” which he’d intended.

    Coldmoon probably considered it was about time to be off, for he said, “What marvellous weather. If you’ve nothing better to do, shall we go out for a walk? As a result of the fall of Port Arthur,” he added encouragingly, “the town’s unusually lively.”

    My master, looking as though he would sooner discuss the identity of the female fiddlers than the fall of Port Arthur, hesitated for a moment’s thought. But he seemed finally to reach a decision, for he stood up resolutely and said, “All right, let’s go out.” He continues to wear his black cotton crested surcoat and, thereunder, a quilted kimono of hand-woven silk which, supposedly a keep-sake of his elder brother, he has worn continuously for twenty years. Even the most strongly woven silk, cannot survive such unremitting, such preternaturally, perennial wear. The material has been worn so thin that, held against the light, one can see the patches sewn on here and there from the inner side. My master wears the same clothes throughout December and January, not bothering to observe the traditional New Year change. He makes, indeed, no distinction between workaday and Sunday clothes. When he leaves the house he saunters out in whatever dress he happens to have on. I do not know whether this is because he has no other clothes to wear or whether, having such clothes, he finds it too much of a bore to change into them. Whatever the case, I can’t conceive that these uncouth habits are in any way connected with disappointment in love.

    After the two men left, I took the liberty of eating such of the boiled fishpaste as Coldmoon had not already devoured. I am, these days, no longer just a common, old cat. I consider myself at least as good as those celebrated in the
    Laura de Sotoцитираминалата година
    essential truth and remained deeply impressed. Why should a man so impressionable lead such an oysterish existence? A mere cat such as I cannot possibly understand it. Some say it is the result of a love affair that went wrong; some say it is due to his weak stomach; while others simply state that it’s because he lacks both money and audacity. Whatever the truth, it doesn’t much matter since he’s a person of insufficient importance to affect the history of his period. What is certain is that he did enquire enviously about Coldmoon’s female fiddlers. Coldmoon, looking amused, picked up a sliver of boiled fishpaste in his chopsticks and nipped at it with his remaining front teeth. I was worried lest another should fall out. But this time it was all right.

    “Well, both of them are daughters of good families. You don’t know them,” Coldmoon coldly answered.

    The master drawled “Is—th-a-t—,” but omitted the final “so” which he’d intended.

    Coldmoon probably considered it was about time to be off, for he said, “What marvellous weather. If you’ve nothing better to do, shall we go out for a walk? As a result of the fall of Port Arthur,” he added encouragingly, “the town’s unusually lively.”

    My master, looking as though he would sooner discuss the identity of the female fiddlers than the fall of Port Arthur, hesitated for a moment’s thought. But he seemed finally to reach a decision, for he stood up resolutely and said, “All right, let’s go out.” He continues to wear his black cotton crested surcoat and, thereunder, a quilted kimono of hand-woven silk which, supposedly a keep-sake of his elder brother, he has worn continuously for twenty years. Even the most strongly woven silk, cannot survive such unremitting, such preternaturally, perennial wear. The material
    Laura de Sotoцитираминалата година
    of Divinations and then, turning to face the window, he brings it in to the tip of his nose. I wish he would soon terminate this curious performance, for the action sets his knees away and I find it hard to keep my balance. When at long last the wobbling began to diminish, I heard him mutter in a tiny voice, “I wonder what it is.” Though full of admiration for the colors on the picture-postcard, he couldn’t identify the animal painted in its center. Which explained his extraordinary antics. Could it perhaps really be a picture more difficult to interpret than my own first glance had suggested? I half-opened my eyes and looked at the painting with an imperturbable calmness. There could be no shadow of a doubt: it was a portrait of myself. I do not suppose that the painter considered himself an Andrea del Sarto, as did my master; but, being a painter, what he had painted, both in respect of form and of color, was perfectly harmonious. Any fool could see it was a cat. And so skillfully painted that anyone with eyes in his head and the mangiest scrap of discernment would immediately recognize that it was a picture of no other cat but me. To think that anyone should need to go to such painful lengths over such a blatantly simple matter. . . I felt a little sorry for the human race. I would have liked to have let him know that the picture is of me. Even if it were too difficult for him to grasp that particularity, I would still have liked to help him see that the painting is of a cat. But since heaven has not seen fit to dower the human animal with an ability to understand cat language, I regret to say that I let the matter be.

    Incidentally, I would like to take the occasion of this incident to advise my readers that the human habit of referring to me in a scornful tone of voice as some mere trifling “cat” is an extremely bad one. Humans appear to think that cows and horses are constructed

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