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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
9,669248299 (4.19)1 / 979
  1. 60
    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
    The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark (foggidawn)
  4. 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.
  5. 10
    The House at Riverton by Kate Morton (mrstreme)
  6. 21
    The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen (WSB7)
    WSB7: Both have the feeling of restraint/seil-restraint foregrounded.
  7. 10
    The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng (CGlanovsky)
  8. 10
    A Slight Trick of the Mind by Mitch Cullin (Othemts)
  9. 00
    The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes (CGlanovsky)
  10. 11
    Flaubert's Parrot by Julian Barnes (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: Two inhibited, unreliable narrators
  11. 01
    Deceits of Time by Isabel Colegate (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: Both books discover Nazi affiliations in the past in prominent statesmen.
  12. 12
    When She Was Good by Philip Roth (cometahalley)
  13. 13
    Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (slickdpdx)
1980s (110)
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English (230)  Italian (3)  Spanish (3)  Dutch (3)  German (3)  French (2)  Finnish (2)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (247)
Showing 1-5 of 230 (next | show all)
Man Booker Prize ( )
  dugmel | Jun 5, 2015 |
I was very impressed by how Ishiguro managed to convey so much emotion in such spare & unemotional writing! I deliberately took my time reading this but this would have been easy to read in one or two big gulps.

Stevens, butler of Darlington Hall, is a man completely out of touch with his own emotions. I wondered at first if he was putting up a front or pretending for some reason (pride perhaps) but by the end, it was clear that he really didn't have any idea of his own feelings.

In the process of showing us this man, Ishiguro also provides us with a look at some of the pro-German British in the years leading up to World War II. While Stevens denies that Lord Darlington was a fascist and an anti-Semite, he then goes on to illustrate his point with reminiscences which belie his position.

Before reading this book, I had seen the movie. Based on that, I thought of this book as being about that part of history but my feeling after reading the book is that this just provided an interesting backdrop to the story of Stevens the man. Perhaps that is because the book is written in the first person, in the form of a journal, whilst the film of necessity is more outside looking in at Stevens, Miss Kenton, and the other occupants of Darlington Hall. It presents a more objective feeling to the action than the book does. ( )
  leslie.98 | May 31, 2015 |
Mr. Stevens has been in service as a butler at Darlington Hall for most of his adult life. When his current employer, Mr. Farraday goes away for a few weeks, Stevens takes the opportunity to go on a brief motoring vacation and visit with Miss Kenton (now Mrs. Benn), the former housekeeper. As Stevens goes on his journey, exploring places far outside the realm of his life at Darlington Hall, he reflects back on the days when he worked with Miss Kenton and the profound events that took place in that grand house during the interwar years.

Every time I pick up an Ishiguro novel I am astounded by the beauty of his restrained prose and the moving narratives he creates with it. While I'd seen bits of the film adapted from this novel, and thus was aware of the outlines of the plot, I was still deeply enamoured with this tale of a life spent in service and Stevens inability to recognize his own emotions. The tale is beautiful, heartbreaking, and yet hopeful. Stevens is almost the stereotypical, proper English butler and his struggles to understand and grapple with life outside the bounds of his duties make him a character with whom it is worth spending time. A gorgeous novel to be savoured. ( )
1 vote MickyFine | Apr 23, 2015 |
What happens when you spend your whole life repressing your identity in order to cater to the growth of somebody you deem destined for great things but is more realistically known infamously? It is akin to parents who solely live their lives vicariously through their children, not seeing that perhaps their little darlings will not all become their idealised perfections. Yet nevertheless they constantly excuse the little prats' failings and thus blind themselves to the children's faults. However, any outsider can see that these people, who could have lived a life for themselves, are deluded and pitiable, lost-opportunities-made-flesh. Thus is the story of our narrating butler.

The introspective novel was a masterclass in how to show,-not-tell. The narrator's convoluted ramble, wrapped in a bouquet of eloquent speech perfectly conveyed the bottomless depth of his denial, showing simultaneously to the reader through this intentional haze, his self-imposed exterior emotions (and no exterior thoughts due to his lifelong goal to be the perfect human-automaton-butler), his repressed emotions and personal thoughts and the emotions and thoughts of those who have to interact with him.

Despite being a quick read - which might be surprising due to the necessarily long-winded, roundabout monologues -, this subtle and hauntingly evocative novel is diluted in big-celebratory-bow conclusions and dense in subtext for the reader to appreciate. ( )
  kitzyl | Mar 28, 2015 |
The poor darling's a dinosaur. Stevens, the quintessential English butler, is caught in the middle of a cultural seismic shift for which he is utterly unprepared. Stevens marches man(servant)fully down a heartrending path of robotic repression, never imagining that there are more important things in life than maintaining one's "dignity" and "professionalism." He misses the death of his father, misses his one shot at romance with Miss Kenton, and even misses the true character of Lord Darlington, a heartless ass and Nazi sympathizer to whom Stevens gave 35 years of loyal service. But Stevens keeps the tea tray perfectly level with the floor at all times, and takes great pride in the minutinae of butlering. Ishiguro's writing is nothing short of exquisite. You rarely encounter craftsmanship of this caliber in a book. ( )
1 vote JMlibrarian | Mar 3, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 230 (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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:36 -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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