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The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

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

by Kazuo Ishiguro (Author)

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11,728337320 (4.19)1 / 1158
Title:The Remains of the Day
Authors:Kazuo Ishiguro (Author)
Info:Vintage International (1990), Edition: 1st, 245 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (1989)

  1. 60
    An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro (bibliobibuli, browner56)
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  4. 40
    What the Butler Saw: Two Hundred and Fifty Years of the Servant Problem by E. S. Turner (thorold)
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1980s (134)

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English (310)  German (6)  Italian (4)  Spanish (4)  Dutch (3)  French (3)  Finnish (2)  Hebrew (1)  Swedish (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (335)
Showing 1-5 of 310 (next | show all)
Lovely, lovely, lovely book. But at the same time almost tragic. Stevens the butler, the main character of the tale, has a fatal flaw that makes him a spectacularly good butler, but a very, very flawed human being. That flaw is the total and complete lack of self awareness. He obviously cares for Miss Kenton, but he never ever acknowledges his feelings to her or to himself. He ends up giving his all for his job, to an employer who is also very, very flawed and does not deserve his dedication. Sadly poignant and beautiful. ( )
  AliceAnna | Nov 1, 2018 |
So sad... ( )
  bookishblond | Oct 24, 2018 |
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro was a subtle, gentle slow read. Although starting out slow, I was compelled to read on; although not fully engaged. This tale is told by Stevens, a post war butler in England; a terse man with little humor. His redemption comes at the very end of the book. 258 pages, 3 1/2 stars. 1001 BYMRBYD ( )
  tess_schoolmarm | Sep 8, 2018 |
The aging butler of an English manor house reflects back over a life spent in the service of others, searching for ways to frame it with meaning and dignity. This is quiet and placid on the surface, but there is such a strong current of melancholy running beneath the simple wording that I found it to be almost mournful. Simon Prebble’s narration of the audiobook (I switched between it and the print version) was pitch perfect and fully expressed the introspective tone of this book. ( )
  wandaly | Aug 16, 2018 |
As I was reading this book, I had 3 and a half B words in my mind.

Beautiful prose – Elegance and beauty flow in the words. The reader is both part of his journey and observing.
British – I find myself sounding the words in a British tone in my head. The words feel refined and proper.
Butler – I know more about the work of a butler than I thought possible. The butler did it – as in a lot of work!
The half B: Boring – Shocking, right? Even with the above 3 B’s, it needs editing to tighten up the story.

Mr. Stevens spent 35 years working for Lord Darlington at the Darlington Hall in the years after WWI on through WWII. The reader learns of these years in largely chronological order via Mr. Steven’s reminiscences during a road trip he is taking to visit a former housekeeper. Being that he worked for one of the distinguished houses of the time, he was in charge of a large staff, managing significant events with worldwide leaders and their respective entourage, and most importantly, was given glimpses to these dignitaries and tidbits of their conversations. Even so, Mr. Stevens followed a code of honor that he felt defined what it meant to be a great butler and to have dignity.

Ishiguro brilliantly presented to us the historical past of the British minds – stoic and proper, aristocratic leaning/preferred. The light touch of historic events was a convenient addition to showcase his points. But more importantly, the story is not about the contents of a life but about the way in which we choose to live our lives. Mr. Stevens lived by his code of honor, even his memories sounded stubborn to his code. In classic British reserved ways, Mr. Stevens barely scrapes at the notion of rather there is more than one way to live life. I particularly liked his interactions in the small town of Moscombe where a Mr. Smith presented ideals of the average men being aware and involved with national and global events. But in the end, a stranger at the pier gazing upon the sunset presents the notion of looking ahead, metaphorically for a day or for a life.

The Man:
“…We’ve all got to put your feet up at some point. Look at me. Been happy as a lark since the day I retired. All right, so neither of us are exactly in our first flush of youth, but you’ve got to keep looking forward… You’ve got to enjoy yourself. The evening’s the best part of the day. You’ve done your day’s work. Now you can put your feet up and enjoy it. That’s how I look at it. Ask anybody, they’ll all tell you. The evening’s the best part of the day.”

Mr. Steven’s thoughts:
"… For a great many people, the evening is the most enjoyable part of the day. Perhaps, then, there is something to his advice that I should cease looking back so much, that I should adopt a more positive outlook and try to make the best of what remains of my day. After all, what can we ever gain in forever looking back and blaming ourselves if our lives have not turned out quite as we might have wished? The hard reality is, surely, that for the likes of you and I, there is little choice other than to leave our fate, ultimately, in the hands of those great gentlemen at the hub of this world who employ our services. What is the point in worrying oneself too much about what one could or could not have done to control the course one’s life took? Surely it is enough that the likes of you and I at least try to make our small contribution count for something true and worthy. And if some of us are prepared to sacrifice much in life in order to pursue such aspirations, surely that is in itself, whatever the outcome, cause for pride and contentment." ( )
  varwenea | Jul 5, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 310 (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 (65 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ishiguro, Kazuoprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kriek, BarthoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prebble, SimonNarratorsecondary 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.
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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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