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The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

The Remains of the Day (original 1989; edition 1990)

by Kazuo Ishiguro

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9,625246299 (4.2)1 / 968
Title:The Remains of the Day
Authors:Kazuo Ishiguro
Info:Vintage (1990), Edition: Mti Rep, Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (1989)

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1980s (78)
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English (228)  Italian (3)  Spanish (3)  Dutch (3)  German (3)  French (2)  Finnish (2)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (245)
Showing 1-5 of 228 (next | show all)
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 |
This really grew on me and by the end I absolutely loved it. Stevens was heart-breaking in his narrow emotional range and his difficulty relating to and interpreting the feelings of others. The inter-war political details were fascinating and thought-provoking. I particularly enjoyed the scene where Stevens is mistaken for a gentleman and omits to correct the error so as "not to embarrass" his hosts. Gentle and subtle and very "British". ( )
  pgchuis | Feb 27, 2015 |
This is a beautiful and touching book. Set in the 1950's as Stevens, the long-time butler of Darlington Hall, embarks in a motoring trip to Cornwall in an attempt to persuade the previous housekeeper to return to her old duties. But as he prepares for, and embarks on, his journey, his mind returns again and again to the Darlington Hall of the 1920's and 1930's, and its owner Lord Darlington's involvement in a private diplomatic mission to promote understanding between Britain and Germany, and prevent war. Throughout his life, dignity has been the most important quality for which Stevens has striven, and in his lifelong service to a man who he believed to be acting in his country's best interests, he felt he had succeeded in this to the best of his ability. It has always been his view that the political questions of the day are not for the likes of him to consider, and should be left to gentlemen such as Lord Darlington. But as he journeys, he begins to question whether such a life as he has lived can truly have meaning.

Wonderfully understated and highly recommended! ( )
  SandDune | Jan 31, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 228 (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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In memory of Mrs Lenore Marshall.
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It seems increasingly likely that I really will undertake the expedition that has been preoccupying my imagination now for some days.
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.
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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)

(summary from another edition)

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