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The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

The Remains of the Day (original 1989; edition 2009)

by Kazuo Ishiguro

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10,893304259 (4.19)1 / 1115
Title:The Remains of the Day
Authors:Kazuo Ishiguro
Info:Faber & Faber Fiction (2009), Kindle Edition, 276 pages
Collections:Your library, Owned, eBooks
Tags:eBook, fiction, 2015, Kindle Store

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
    The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark (foggidawn)
  3. 51
    Persuasion by Jane Austen (electronicmemory)
    electronicmemory: Slow, languid stories about regret and life choices not understood until they've passed by.
  4. 40
    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. 20
    Mr Holmes by Mitch Cullin (Othemts)
  6. 10
    The House at Riverton by Kate Morton (mrstreme)
  7. 10
    The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes (CGlanovsky)
  8. 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)
  10. 11
    Flaubert's Parrot by Julian Barnes (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: Two inhibited, unreliable narrators
  11. 00
    Letters Back to Ancient China by Herbert Rosendorfer (JuliaMaria)
    JuliaMaria: Nette aus der Welt gefallene Männer erklären die Welt.
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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 (284)  German (3)  Spanish (3)  Dutch (3)  Italian (3)  French (2)  Finnish (2)  Danish (1)  Hebrew (1)  All (302)
Showing 1-5 of 284 (next | show all)
I was prompted to read this book after the author was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature last week. This follows his being awarded an OBE for services to literature and becoming a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, both in the 1990s. This particular novel won the Booker Prize in 1989. It is very well written and the author has a wonderful and seemingly effortless command of language, which as a linguist I appreciate. Yet I also felt there was a certain coldness to the prose, reflected in the central character of the butler, Mr Stevens. His dedication to his duty towards his employer Lord Darlington is so total and his manner so stiffly formal, that he sometimes came across as just plain cold, in particular on the death of his father, who was also employed in Lord Darlington's house. The framework narrative of the novel is set in the 1950s, after Lord Darlington has died, and Stevens's new employer is an American, Mr Farraday. The latter goes away on a trip and Stevens takes a drive to the west country to seek out a former fellow employee from the 1920s and 30s, Miss Kenton. His journey however consists almost entirely of reminiscences of his life working under Lord Darlington in those decades, during which his former employer became involved in, at best naive, attempts to use his influence to bring about peace between Britain and Nazi Germany. One particular unsavoury nadir comes when Darlington sacks two Jewish housemaids merely because of their background, an order which Stevens loyally executes. The political background is interesting and Stevens's position undoubtedly awkward, but I seldom felt much sympathy for him and his outlook and world view seem very alien to the modern reader. There are passages of inadvertent humour, though, particularly in the conversations between Stevens and Miss Kenton. ( )
  john257hopper | Oct 12, 2017 |
The Remains of the Day is Kazuo Ishiguro's most beloved novel, according to LibraryThing ratings stats it ranks highest of his oeuvre. Having just won the Nobel I gave it a try, nearly 30 years after publication it's becoming something of a classic. Ishiguro's prose is precise and dignified like the character he portrays. There are multiple layers of meaning behind "remains of the day". I think what will stick with me is Stevens' voice and demeanor because Ishiguro found a way to make a wooden butler into a real person. Ishiguro owns the butler space. ( )
  Stbalbach | Oct 10, 2017 |
An amazingly well written and complex story that manages to cover English politics, history, life regrets and more, all told through the eyes of an almost sociopathic, fussy butler, who is an unreliable narrator and doesn't even want to talk about those topics. Wanted to pick it back up and read it again right away. ( )
  Abbey_Harlow | Oct 5, 2017 |
Excerpts from my original GR review (Jul 15, '10):
-This atmospheric, rather sad, story is told as a kind of memoir by a very proper and loyal butler, James Stevens, as he takes an extended drive to the western counties of England at the encouragement of his present-day (mid 1950's) American employer.
-Stevens reflects on his many years of service, including his fond, but sometimes testy supervision of Miss Kenton, chief housekeeper at Darlington Hall, who 20 years before left Darlington to marry.
-What grabbed me most in this book was the wonderful narrative of Stevens' voice...
-..he is also rather naive to the political intrigue that is cultivated in the Great House../ Frequent visits by German diplomats.. are recalled innocently by Stevens, while letting the reader know the magnitude of these gatherings. ( )
  ThoughtPolice | Sep 20, 2017 |
This book definitely lived up to my expectations. I could hardly take a break from reading it that's how engrossing I found the story.

Mr. Stevens is an English butler, currently working for an "American gentleman" who has bought the English manor house, Darlington Hall. Previously Darlington Hall was owned by Lord Darlington and Stevens was the butler for many years. During the years between World War I and World War II, Lord Darlington was involved with trying to ease the relationship between Germany and its former enemies. In fact, for a time Lord Darlington was involved with Sir Oswald Mosley who headed a right-wing pro-fascist organization referred to as the 'blackshirts'. Although he later regretted it Lord Darlington insisted that two housemaids be dismissed because they were Jewish. Stevens, as butler, had to carry out this command. The head housekeeper, Miss Kenton, threatened to resign as well if this was allowed to happen. In the end, Miss Kenton stayed until she got married but she felt she had been very weak to do so.

We learn all about life at Darlington Hall as Stevens takes a driving vacation (a singular event in his life) to see Miss Kenton who now lives in Cornwall. Stevens reminisces about the events and considers what constitutes a great butler. He feels that 'dignity' is the hallmark of a great butler and that in stressful situations a great butler will continue to show dignity. He applies this to his own life and never lets his guard down. Even as Stevens' father lay dying Stevens continued to serve refreshments to the guests assembled for an important meeting. The doctor who was called for his father arrived too late but Stevens was able to placate a guest with painful feet by having the doctor tend to them. Although Stevens knew Miss Kenton was attracted to him and even though he felt something for her he never allowed his emotions to show. Thus Miss Kenton married a man she did not love and had quite a rocky relationship. In fact, Miss Kenton had written to Stevens that she had left her husband and Stevens thought that perhaps she might be looking for a position at Darlington Hall again. That was the impetus for him taking this unusual step of driving from Oxfordshire to Cornwall. Perhaps Stevens is finally allowing his emotions to gain the upperhand over his 'dignity'. Or perhaps not.

I recommend this book highly. ( )
  gypsysmom | Aug 9, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 284 (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 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)

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