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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.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
9,400234312 (4.19)1 / 853
  1. 50
    An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro (bibliobibuli, browner56)
    browner56: The consequences of misguided devotion treated from both the British and Japanese perspectives.
  2. 40
    Persuasion by Jane Austen (electronicmemory)
    electronicmemory: Slow, languid stories about regret and life choices not understood until they've passed by.
  3. 30
    What the Butler Saw: Two Hundred and Fifty Years of the Servant Problem by E. S. Turner (thorold)
    thorold: It's fascinating to put these two classic studies of the relationship between the English upper classes and their domestic servants side-by-side: one a delicate psychological novel, the other a gossipy work of social history.
  4. 30
    The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark (foggidawn)
  5. 21
    The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen (WSB7)
    WSB7: Both have the feeling of restraint/seil-restraint foregrounded.
  6. 10
    A Slight Trick of the Mind by Mitch Cullin (Othemts)
  7. 10
    The House at Riverton by Kate Morton (mrstreme)
  8. 10
    The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng (CGlanovsky)
  9. 11
    Flaubert's Parrot by Julian Barnes (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: Two inhibited, unreliable narrators
  10. 11
    When She Was Good by Philip Roth (cometahalley)
  11. 00
    The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes (CGlanovsky)
  12. 01
    Deceits of Time by Isabel Colegate (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: Both books discover Nazi affiliations in the past in prominent statesmen.
  13. 12
    Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (slickdpdx)
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English (217)  German (3)  Spanish (3)  Italian (3)  Dutch (2)  Finnish (2)  French (2)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (233)
Showing 1-5 of 217 (next | show all)
It is a nice, gentle book. I like how it helps to understand the mentality of a person who has basically become obsolete and is doing his best to face a new world. Interesting way of thinking about history too. I guess the simplistic way to say it would be 'hindsight is 20/20' but it seems a bit more complex than that... the best intentions and the brightest minds just aren't enough, history unfolds beyond all of that. How? Our butler isn't sure either it seems. But he enjoyed the process even if he can't quite comprehend the result.
Also some nice stylized thinking about how we manage or don't manage to communicate that we care about people within the confines of social rules or just social inertia. It is hard to break out and say what you mean, things don't just unfold like in the movies, we have to force them to happen. But often we don't. And sometimes we still manage to read between the lines and grasp the love, but it is enough?

Cool little book, but in terms of Ishiguro I would recommend 'When We Were Orphans' before this one if I had to prioritize. ( )
  ahovde01 | Dec 12, 2014 |
I had seen the movie years ago and decided to read the book. The book is different than the movie and much better.

The book takes place over a couple of days with flashbacks over his years of service as butler at Darlington Hall. ( )
  foof2you | Nov 18, 2014 |
In which a veteran and accomplished butler sets out for the West Country to try and recruit his querulous frenemy, a former subordinate, to return to the great country house where he serves, in the final days of the great age of the English manor after World War II. His trip yields up a few minor misadventures, and, more importantly, reminiscences and reflections on his career and profession. Our narrator is an extremely formal and reserved man who is frank with his audience in a way one suspects he never has been with anybody else. Critics often tell of unreliable narrators, but our hero is, if anything, almost too reliable; his intelligent, erudite, and minute observations seem not to be matched with a corresponding ability to grasp the conclusions which naturally flow from his experiences. I loved this quiet, reflective, occasionally witty book. ( )
  Big_Bang_Gorilla | Oct 28, 2014 |
Is it just me, or is the Goodreads summary for this kind of spoilery? ( )
  humblewomble | Oct 19, 2014 |
It took me until page 46 to really get into the book. I started and stopped the book a number of times until he really got started on his trip. Then I was hooked. Stevens's unexpected opportunity to travel gives him the time to rethink his life as a buttler, coming to the conclusion that he was probably not the great buttler he thought himself as. Much of the book is spent reexamining his relationship with Miss Kenton with whom he had a numerous differences of opinion. It's also a study at class, ethnicity and culture, specifically the encroachment of outsiders (neuveau riche Americans) on the well ordered English lifestyle. ( )
  pussreboots | Oct 10, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 217 (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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Epigraph
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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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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