Kazuo Ishiguro - Remains of the Day, The - 10

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Kazuo Ishiguro - Remains of the Day, The - 10

Postby SlowRain » Thu Jan 19, 2006 9:18 am

Remains of the Day, The



This is the first novel that I have read by Kazuo Ishiguro, and it won't be my last. The story, set in the early-to-mid part of the 20th century, centers around the life of Mr. Stevens, a butler in a large English house, and the events that go on over 30 years, as well as his relationships with the Lord of the manor and the housekeeper. The story is told in a series of flashbacks over six days as Stevens is motoring through the English countryside.

The narrative is smooth and formal, neither too detailed nor sparse, but with a smaller than average amount of dialogue. It is such fascinating writing of a subject that would otherwise be very dull that I think he could make accounting seem exciting. It is told in a first person narrative, but, as the story develops, we are constantly having to remind ourselves that Stevens's view may not be the true opinion of events and how life works.

Using the sheltered life of Stevens and the allegory of a butler, Mr. Ishiguro treats us to discussions of tolerance/acceptance of others' opinions, political/social activism vs. passivism, personal relationships, emotional suppression, loneliness, duty, regret, fads, and, yes... love.

Clearly, Mr. Ishiguro had a purpose when he wrote this book, and his choice of time, place, and setting make his themes stand out clearly in our mind. We have the luxury to look at the opinions of Stevens and others with the knowledge of how things have eventually turned out, and this makes us look at our own opinions with skepticism as to how the future will play out for us, and it makes us think of what we will do with the remains of our days.

As I read this book, I couldn't help but think of Tuesday's With Morrie. The Remains of the Day is everything that Tuesday's with Morrie wasn't: it is intelligent, poignant, well-written, mature, non-preachy, and thought-provoking. I highly recommend it to anyone who hasn't yet read it.


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Postby violetblue » Thu Jan 19, 2006 9:43 am

I have not read the book, but I have seen the movie and I think this is one of Anthony Hopkins best roles. There are a couple of scenes I can still remember vividly because they had such emotional impact.
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Remains of the Day

Postby SlowRain » Thu Jan 19, 2006 9:51 pm

The thing that surprised me was that there was so much more to the book. That may sound silly, because the book always has more, but this book is only about 250 pages; I thought that would be just enough to tell the love story. However, I was surprised at how much additional material was in there, particularly regarding Stevens's personality and his views on politics, his profession, and life in general. This book is a real gem.
"The only second chance you get is to make the same mistake twice." - David Mamet

Currently reading: "Bridge of Sighs" by Richard Russo
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Location: Taichung, Taiwan


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