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The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

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

by Kazuo Ishiguro

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
10,154270282 (4.19)1 / 1046
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)

  1. 60
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English (252)  Italian (3)  Spanish (3)  Dutch (3)  German (3)  French (2)  Finnish (2)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (269)
Showing 1-5 of 252 (next | show all)
very well written, but so sad; reminds me of the song "Is That All There Is" ( )
  Claudia.Anderson | May 22, 2016 |
When i started this book, i thought it was a story about journey. Journey of a butler on the road. But i was wrong but not completely, its a journey but journey of a butler through his life.
This talks about being a good, great butler. A butler's responsibility on his master, or house.

Mr.Stevens gave very little importance on his personal life. He made it very clear that whatever may happen but his duty to his master is first and it is the only way to be a great butler. And his personal emotions are not to be showed at all.
I liked Miss.Kenton, who worked hard but showed her emotions and thoughts to others. She , in several points tried to bring out the thoughts of Mr.Stevens but was not succeeded.

Well all other characters were fine and i liked the journey of the great butler. (except the talk regarding the "great butlers" and i do not know whether Mr.Stevens is a great butler or not )

I am not much impressed with the storyline, even though the narration is great.. ( )
  PallaviSharma | May 9, 2016 |
Wow. What a beautiful book. Mr. Stevens is one of the greatest narrators of any first-person POV novel I've ever read. Heartbreaking at times, of course, but I don't think I found it as sad overall as so many reviews/analyses have made it out to be. Maybe I have a bit of that ignoring-all-in-the-name-of-whatever that Stevens has in me. So much going on here, father-son relationships and their difficulties, honor, dignity, responsibility, memory. Just one of my favorites I've read in quite a while.


Stevens' end scene on the bench with the stranger when he realizes, or maybe only considers, that his life has been a bit of a waste is pretty crushing, but his ability to turn it right around at the end with his usual resolve s perfectly in line with his character throughout the novel. ( )
1 vote BooksForDinner | Apr 7, 2016 |
Is it just me, or is the Goodreads summary for this kind of spoilery? ( )
  thebookmagpie | Mar 13, 2016 |
A couple years ago, I watched Never Let Me Go and was struck by how wonderful it was. I'm not one to read a book after I've seen the movie, so I looked into other books that Ishiguro had written. By far, The Remains of the Day was the most recommended and highest reviewed. I bought it, and then promptly forgot about it until... about three days ago.

Though it didn't take me long to read the book (it's fairly short), I have to say that I just didn't quite get it. It's incredibly well-written, of course. Ishiguro does an excellent job of painting a picture of the English countryside and Darlington Hall, but I couldn't get past how robotic Mr. Stevens was -- and, yes, I understand that this was the point.

Mr. Stevens is your stereotypical English butler. He prides himself on his dignity as a butler, aiding his employer in every way possible, even when he ends up insulting himself or doing something counterproductive in the process. He fails to understand why one would 'banter' with one's employer, devoting several long, tedious pages to trying to determine what situations might call for banter and how one is to determine the appropriate level of banter in a response while avoiding offense. (He also always refers to himself as 'one,' sometimes several times in one sentence. It is very frustrating.)

At the beginning of the novel, Mr. Stevens has just received a letter from Miss Kenton (now Mrs. Benn), the former housekeeper at Darlington Hall. In her letter, he feels that she's expressing regret at the path she chose for her life, maybe even regretting her marriage and hoping for her former job back. He takes a road trip through the English countryside to meet up with her, philosophizing on what it means to be a good butler and reminiscing about the political events his former employer was involved in.

In the end, nothing really happens aside from tangent after tangent after tangent. I felt like the hours I'd spent reading this book had been wasted due to the lack of plot. This book is extremely well-written, but unfortunately, that's about all I can say for it. Maybe I'm just missing something, but I can't for the life of me figure out why so many people love this book.

[see more reviews at the bibliophagist] ( )
  Sara.Newhouse | Feb 11, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 252 (next | show all)
Just below the understatement of the novel’s surface is a turbulence as immense as it is slow; for The Remains of the Day is in fact a brilliant subversion of the fictional modes from which it seems at first to descend.
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.
First words
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.
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)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 13 descriptions

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