I Am a Cat

I Am a Cat

I Am a Cat

I Am a Cat

Excerpt

NATSUME SŌSEKI is the pen name of Natsume Kin'nosuke (1867-1916), the eighth and youngest son of an hereditary ward-chief in Tokyo under the Tokugawa shogunate. Such nanushi, though privileged to the point of being minor town-gentry, were not samurai. His father's post disappeared with the collapse of the Tokugawa shogunate and the Meiji Restoration of 1868, and the family thus fell upon hard times made yet harder by that gay improvidence which was, and still is, regarded as right conduct by the citizens of Tokyo. Sōseki received the compulsory modern education, both primary and at middle school level, which had been introduced in 1872; but his teachers had, of course, themselves been trained in precisely that Chinese classical tradition by which his own childhood had been conditioned. "When I was a boy," he later wrote, "I could recite thousands of lines of T'ang and Sung poetry"; and he always preferred the hard plangency of bungotai, the traditional literary language derived from Chinese models, to the smoother, almost . . .

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