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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
10,515287271 (4.19)1 / 1074
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
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  3. 30
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  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.
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    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.
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English (269)  Italian (3)  Spanish (3)  Dutch (3)  German (3)  French (2)  Finnish (2)  Hebrew (1)  All (286)
Showing 1-5 of 269 (next | show all)
I liked this book, and I read it fairly quickly, but I can't help feeling a bit disappointed. Normally I'm perfectly fine with a book in which very little happens, yet that is then only tolerable because the characters' behavior, or psychology, is fascinating to read about. I therefore liked John Williams' Stoner, a similar "quiet" novel, with a main character remarkable in his own, dignified way.

Yet in Remains of the Day, Mr. Stevens was to me both frustrating and perhaps somewhat narrow-minded, or unimaginative, however dignified (this word comes up so often in the book it's sneaked into my own vocabulary) and well-meaning, and his journey, which in my opinion felt rather rushed, only there to set a proper stage for his reminiscences, was uneventful (which makes sense, I guess), and somehow even rarely mentioned, as if the author sometimes forgot about it himself. I would've liked more English country traveling and a bit less of Stevens' thought patterns.

What made me read on when it became tedious was Lord Darlington's life seen throughout the years, the grand meeting on Germany's reparation payments, Miss Kenton's relationship with Mr. Stevens, and the gradual decline of Stevens' father. Ishiguro is great at vividly rendering a scene and its atmosphere of tension or calm, and the parts I mentioned where the ones where I forgot, as one does with great novels, that I was reading a book.

The book, then, was certainly captivating at various points throughout, and this review might have been more positive (I did like this book, mind you; had the emphasis been on different aspects, aspects that I liked, I might have even praised it as a whole) had it not been for the endless, repetitive thoughts of Mr. Stevens. When his spells of remembering became a story, the novel was enjoyable, yet when the butler went over the same thought again and again, somehow unable to escape his overly simple reasoning, I read noticeably faster, as if trying to re-create the wind forward option of a TV remote, looking for the good parts that surely were there, but sadly not frequently enough.
  bartt95 | Jan 15, 2017 |
A tragedy that washes over you so subtly you don't notice it until you're already under water. Beautiful. ( )
  jalbacutler | Jan 10, 2017 |
A tragic, spiritual portrait of a perfect English butler and his reaction to his fading insular world in post-war England. This was a very well written book with interesting characters. It was a very easy audio to listen to and held my attention all the way through. I would highly recommend this book to those who love great literature.
4.5 stars ( )
  EadieB | Jan 2, 2017 |
A lovely book. I wish I had discovered it before Downton Abbey became a thing. ( )
  AngelClaw | Dec 13, 2016 |
I read (or listened) to this book while driving to visit a friend. I was unaware that a good portion of this book took place over a road trip of the main character while reflecting on their life. It was oddly coincidental and really just added another bit of enjoyment to this book. I haven't yet seen the movie that was made from this book, but I hope I enjoy it as much as I did this book. I don't know how Ishiguro does it, it seems like he can jump from genre to genre but they are each just as enjoyable. Because I listened to this back in June and my reviews then didn't save, I hope I am able to get around to reading (or listening to) it again in the future, so I can do a much better than this one four months later. ( )
  princess_mischa | Oct 24, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 269 (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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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 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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