I am a Cat
Natsume Soseki famous Novel.
It would be very hard to find a Japanese who does not know Natsume Soseki (1867-1916), the very popular novelist in the Meiji era (1868-1912). His portrait was printed on 1000 yen bills for quite a few years until recently, and his collections are still sold at major book stores everywhere today. The most well known of his works is "Kokoro (Heart)", but his first novel "Wagahai Wa Neko De Aru" ( I am a Cat) made him instantly famous as a novelist.
A wandering cat was picked up by "Kushami", the owner of the house, but he was never given a name until the end. He lay in the house and listened to the funny conversation among Kushami and his old friends and thought that human beings were ridiculously funny. The author's humor was expressed profoundly well and he was very encouraged and wrote another great book, Botchan to establish his top position in Japanese modern literature. In "I am a Cat" there are four cats who have their own community gossip over the fence. Shiro (white) is owned by a serviceman family, Mikeneko, a tortoiseshell cat by an artist, and Kuro, a big black lazy cat from a forwarder, and the hero's owner, Kushami is a poor teacher.
In the last page of this novel, the hero cat, when he was wandering around outside of the house after he drank some beer left by Kushami's guests, fell into a big watered jar. He could not get out of the jar and he thought he was dying. But he still felt good and fell into sleep…………end. He had nine lives, too. He was rescued by a writer who considered himself as the most faithful student of Natsume Soseki, called Uchida Hyakken (1889-1971). He wrote "Gansaku (fake) I am a Cat". This instantly reminded me of Maurice Ravel's Waltz "imitating" Johann Strauss. The "fake" was immediately accepted as a masterpiece.
I asked the artist to paint "I am a Cat" as I am a faithful reader of Soseki's and have continued to enjoy his works for many years. And thanks to Mr.Funanosuke Natsume, Soseki's grandson, the foremost Manga (comics) critic today in Japan who granted his permission to have Soseki's portrait on the pens. I sincerely hope that you will enjoy the work.