Tuesday, December 15, 2009

'I Am a Cat' Volume Two (JLit Read-along)


Welcome to the Japanese Literature Read-along discussion of Volume Two of I Am a Cat by Sōseki Natsume. I hope you're enjoying the book so far.

You'll have to forgive me, I've barely read anything over the last week so I'm very behind and still have not finished reading Volume Two of I Am a Cat. However, in the meantime, here are a few questions to get the conversation started. As always feel free to talk about any aspect of the story, or bring up any questions you had.

What do you think of Volume Two? How does it compare to Volume One?
Do you feel like you got to know the characters better in this section?
Do you have a favourite character? Least favourite?
Do you have a favourite scene from Volume Two? (The scene in Volume One with the cat getting his teeth stuck in a rice cake and dancing around the kitchen still makes me chuckle when I think of it.)
What do you think of the cat's sometimes seemingly human actions or thoughts?
Do you think the location of the story is important or could it have taken place anywhere?
Is there any aspect of the story so far that strikes you as uniquely Japanese?
[Your Question Here...]

Reminder: Comments may contain spoilers from Volume One and Two, so please read at your own risk. If you have read on, please wait to discuss Volume Three until next month.

If you post about Volume Two on your own blog, please let me know and I'll update this post with any links. I'd also suggest clicking the box to subscribe to comments so that you will be notified when new comments are left on this post.

And just a reminder that you can follow @readingjapan on Twitter for updates on both the Read-along group and the Japanese Literature Book Group. For I Am a Cat, we've been using the hashtag #iamacat.

The following participants have shared their thoughts on Volume Two:
Paperback Reader

Previous post:
'I Am a Cat' Volume One

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  1. I LOVED Volume II! I found it far more episodic and amusing than Volume I and very nearly immediately went on to reading the third and last volume!

    Here's my post:


    The burglary and the cat attempting to catch rats were my favourite moments as was the exchange between Sneaze and his acquaintances about Sōseki's poetry!

    I found Volume II less culturally specific and there were less occasions where I wondered about a custom or fact than in Volume I. I am finding myself confused about the time period and when exactly events occur? I find it quite timeless in places yet some of the translation jars with me as it is thoroughly modern.

  2. Sadly I have been too busy to join with this readalong, and I dont want to spoil the story for myself. So I'll come back and read these when I finally get around to reading the book!

    Left you an award on my blog. A very merry Yule to you!

  3. My Sunday Salon is about part 2 of I Am a Cat! I just made a selection of my notes -- it was too much work to cram everything into it.

    For example I do have an opinion about your question What do you think of the cat's sometimes seemingly human actions or thoughts? that I didn't get to put in my post. Picturing the cat as actually writing down the story was a bit too much for me (p.153), especially since it pretends to don't know about human things at other times. I can go along with the idea that I'm in the cat's head, but not with the fairytale of a cat with a pen(cil).

    I might write another post someday about the things I skipped for now ;)

  4. mee - No worries. I'm glad to have you join in whenever you can.

    Claire - I loved the episode with the cat trying to catch rats! And the burglary. Soseki really did capture the personality of a cat, didn't he?

    I believe the story is set in 1905, or thereabouts, because of a reference in the first volume to it being the second year of the war with the Russians, which took place from 1904-05. And Soseki also apparently wrote the book in 1905-06 so I guess he was writing of his time. I agree that some things come across as fairly modern but I wonder if that's a fault of the translation.

    mariel - Thank you so much for the award!! I hope you enjoy the book whenever you get a chance to read it.

    gnoegnoe - I completely agree with you! I have a hard time imagining the cat actually 'writing down' the story too, and any reference to him doing so always stops me short.


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