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

by Kazuo Ishiguro

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
9,574247301 (4.19)1 / 958
Member:narrowridge
Title:The Remains of the Day
Authors:Kazuo Ishiguro
Info:Vintage (1990), Edition: Mti Rep, Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:None

Work details

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (1989)

  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
    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.
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    The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng (CGlanovsky)
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    KayCliff: Two inhibited, unreliable narrators
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    When She Was Good by Philip Roth (cometahalley)
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    The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes (CGlanovsky)
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    Deceits of Time by Isabel Colegate (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: Both books discover Nazi affiliations in the past in prominent statesmen.
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English (227)  Italian (3)  Spanish (3)  Dutch (3)  German (3)  French (2)  Finnish (2)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (244)
Showing 1-5 of 227 (next | show all)
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 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 227 (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)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 13 descriptions

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