I Am a Cat was written by japanese author Natsume Soseki in 1906. Its clear, taut prose is notably ‘modern’ for its time. I was affected by its writing more than other books — not just in part due to the unlikely cat narrator — but what it taught me: the best satire is born of compassion. After the following excerpts, I will try to explain what I mean.
I hear that, on occasion, this species catches, boils, and eats us. However as at that time I lacked all knowledge of such creatures, I did not feel particularly frightened. I simply felt myself floating in the air as I was lifted up lightly on his palm.
This is early on in the book, where Soseki quickly establishes the satirical tendency throughout the novel. There is a certain rationality that comes easily for the cat, who gains the reader’s authority.
On hearing the front bell (after the break):