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The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
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The Remains of the Day (1989)

by Kazuo Ishiguro

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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9,501242304 (4.19)1 / 924
Recently added byaltikkun, wendywa, belgrade18, jennyifer24, john257hopper, katolibrary, krisa, tbritny, private library
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English (223)  Italian (3)  Spanish (3)  Dutch (3)  German (3)  French (2)  Finnish (2)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (240)
Showing 1-5 of 223 (next | show all)
A butler of any quality must be seen to inhabit his role, utterly and fully; he cannot be seen casting it aside one moment simply to don it again the next as though it were nothing more than a pantomime costume. Page 174

Mr Stevens is offered the unprecedented opportunity to take a holiday in the English countryside and by accepting he inadvertently embarks upon a journey of reflections that spans the time between two wars and during which he is employed by the distinguished gentleman of Darlington Hall. His musings on life, on loyalty and on love are inseparable from his identity as a butler and caretaker of a household during it's peak of activity and influence.

There is just no way to make the life and times of a butler and the repetitive monotony of his job sound exciting in any way or form. His duties are not glamourous in the least, and in the end, it really is one man's perspective of his humble position in the wider world. What makes The Remains of the Day worth reading is simply the personality and character of Mr. Stevens. There is something oblivious and vulnerable about this man who I couldn't help but find endearing and the cherry on top is that he is absolutely a riot without realizing it. His life could easily have been a story of regret, of lost chances, of what could have been, but instead it a beautifully crafted account of one man's experiences and his contemplative acceptance of the life he lived. I am now undoubtably and unashamedly a Ishiguro fangirl. Highly recommended. ( )
  jolerie | Jan 24, 2015 |
I just finished the book, and went from being unsure why this received such good reviews, to instead realizing it rates as one of my favorite books in recent years.

It's a quiet read, told by Mr Stevens - an increasingly obsolete English butler - as he travels across the countryside to visit a former housekeeper he hasn't seen for decades. At first I was unsure I could stay interested in a story mostly told as reminiscing, but the way Stevens thinks and how his identity is so tied up in his role as a butler becomes evident in the prose. I just ached for him, wanting so much to feel he had lived a life of dignity and value while also grappling with the possibility that the man he worked for was not what he believed him to be. Because his self-worth is so tied to his role, he is struggling to make sense of the world that has changed around him. The story is about the butler, but it is also about the politics and society in England as it changed over the years before, during and after WWII. It is about the ways we communicate to others within our social roles, and perhaps the way that can inhibit true expression of emotions. I expect Mr Stevens will stay with me for some time. ( )
  lynetterl | Jan 20, 2015 |
Mr. Stevens, butler for Darlington Hall, is taking an unheard of holiday, motoring across the English countryside for a few days. His destination: a meet-up with the former housekeeper for Darlington Hall, Mrs. Benn, nee Kenton. He harbors the hope that he can persuade her to return to address a staffing problem at the great house, now owned by a wealthy American, as he believes she is unhappy in her marriage and planning to leave her husband. Along the way, Stevens reminisces about events in the great house to which he has dedicated his career, especially during the 1930s when the lord of the house was playing host to a handful of eminent noblemen and politicians, hoping to broker a more peaceful Europe. He also reminisces about his friendship with Miss Kenton during her employ at the house.

This is a beautifully written wry portrait of an aging butler, a man who has carried himself through his professional life with an unflagging dedication to the dignity of the office, and who has paid the emotional price. Ishiguro's sense of irony is pitch-perfect and elegantly wrought. Mr. Stevens and Miss Kenton are richly developed characters, created wholly through Mr. Stevens' imperfect and constrained memory of events and conversations. I found myself chuckling with delight at his deadpan delivery while also feeling tremendous sadness at the emotional cost of his choices. As a "Downton Abbey" fan, I occasionally channeled Mr. Carson's voice for that of Stevens, but Miss Kenton is her own character (Emma Thompson notwithstanding). Wonderful and highly recommended. ( )
5 vote EBT1002 | Jan 19, 2015 |
Beautiful book.. It's a light read but very profound book.
Love the way it was written, the character Mr. Stevens is talking directly to you and telling his life story about his lifelong career has a butler during his trip to go see Miss Kenton.


Well written, a truly enjoyable book!

( )
  dom76 | Jan 7, 2015 |
This was one of those books I've never got round to reading, and now that I have, I rather wish I'd been able to read it before seeing the film, since it's very difficult to read without being reminded of it. The book is very moving, full of period detail and surprisingly funny in places - fully deserving of whatever accolades it received.
( )
  bodachliath | Jan 5, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 223 (next | show all)
We can work out the date of Stevens's expedition ... Ominous dates. ... the Suez crisis dominated British current affairs. ... Stevens is not returning to a golden evening ... there are no remains -- except in the sense of `corpse'.
added by KayCliff | editWhere was Rebecca shot?, John Sutherland (Mar 5, 1998)
 
The Remains of the Day is too much a roman à thèse, and a judgmental one besides. Compared to his astounding narrative sophistication, Ishiguro's message seems quite banal: Be less Japanese, less bent on dignity, less false to yourself and others, less restrained and controlled. The irony is that it is precisely Ishiguro's beautiful restraint and control that one admires, and, in the case of the last novel [The Remains of the Day], his nerve in setting up such a high-wire act for himself.
added by jburlinson | editNew York Review of Books, Gabriele Annan (pay site) (Dec 7, 1989)
 
Kazuo Ishiguro's tonal control of Stevens' repressive yet continually reverberating first-person voice is dazzling. So is his ability to present the butler from every point on the compass: with affectionate humor, tart irony, criticism, compassion and full understanding. It is remarkable, too, that as we read along in this strikingly original novel, we continue to think not only about the old butler, but about his country, its politics and its culture.
 

» Add other authors (34 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ishiguro, Kazuoprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kriek, BarthoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rybicki, JanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stiehl, HermannTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
In memory of Mrs Lenore Marshall.
First words
It seems increasingly likely that I really will undertake the expedition that has been preoccupying my imagination now for some days.
Quotations
The English landscape at its finest—such as I saw this morning—possesses a quality that the landscapes of other nations, however more superficially dramatic, inevitably fail to possess. It is, I believe, a quality that will mark out the English landscape to any objective observer as the most deeply satisfying in the world, and this quality is probably best summed up by the term 'greatness.' And yet what precisely is this greatness? I would say that it is the very lack of obvious drama or spectacle that sets the beauty of our land apart. What is pertinent is the calmness of that beauty, its sense of restraint. It is as though the land knows of its own beauty, of its own greatness, and feels no need to shout it.
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Book description
A butler looks back over his career at a fine English country house while on a trip to visit a former colleague.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679731725, Paperback)

The novel's narrator, Stevens, is a perfect English butler who tries to give his narrow existence form and meaning through the self-effacing, almost mystical practice of his profession. In a career that spans the second World War, Stevens is oblivious of the real life that goes on around him -- oblivious, for instance, of the fact that his aristocrat employer is a Nazi sympathizer. Still, there are even larger matters at stake in this heartbreaking, pitch-perfect novel -- namely, Stevens' own ability to allow some bit of life-affirming love into his tightly repressed existence.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:03:37 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

The novel's narrator, Stevens, is a perfect English butler who tries to give his narrow existence form and meaning through the self-effacing, almost mystical practice of his profession. In a career that spans the second World War, Stevens is oblivious of the real life that goes on around him -- oblivious, for instance, of the fact that his aristocrat employer is a Nazi sympathizer. Still, there are even larger matters at stake in this heartbreaking, pitch-perfect novel -- namely, Stevens' own ability to allow some bit of life-affirming love into his tightly repressed existence.… (more)

» see all 13 descriptions

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