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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 (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
14,165421315 (4.19)1 / 1281
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)
Member:pholbrook17
Title:The Remains of the Day
Authors:Kazuo Ishiguro (Author)
Info:Vintage International (1990), Edition: 1st, 245 pages
Collections:Audible
Rating:
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Work Information

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. 61
    Persuasion by Jane Austen (electronicmemory)
    electronicmemory: Slow, languid stories about regret and life choices not understood until they've passed by.
  3. 50
    The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark (foggidawn)
  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
    A Slight Trick of the Mind by Mitch Cullin (Othemts)
  6. 10
    The House at Riverton by Kate Morton (mrstreme)
  7. 21
    The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes (CGlanovsky)
  8. 11
    The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng (CGlanovsky)
  9. 00
    Letters Back to Ancient China by Herbert Rosendorfer (JuliaMaria)
    JuliaMaria: Nette aus der Welt gefallene Männer erklären die Welt.
  10. 11
    Atonement by Ian McEwan (sturlington)
  11. 11
    Flaubert's Parrot by Julian Barnes (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: Two inhibited, unreliable narrators
  12. 11
    The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen (WSB7)
    WSB7: Both have the feeling of restraint/seil-restraint foregrounded.
  13. 01
    Deceits of Time by Isabel Colegate (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: Both books discover Nazi affiliations in the past in prominent statesmen.
  14. 23
    Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (slickdpdx)
  15. 02
    When She Was Good by Philip Roth (cometahalley)
1980s (103)
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» See also 1281 mentions

English (386)  Spanish (8)  German (6)  French (5)  Italian (5)  Dutch (3)  Finnish (2)  Japanese (1)  Hebrew (1)  Swedish (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (419)
Showing 1-5 of 386 (next | show all)
I found this very disturbing, although I was reading it to get inside the mind of a devoted servant. Told from the point of view of the butler himself, it was harrowing to go through is mind, his justifications, his devotion to his employer, his blindness to the emotions of other humans. ( )
  lisamlane | Jan 13, 2022 |
I always try to go into a book with an open mind when it's highly recommended. Just because a book is considered a classic doesn't mean I will always enjoy it. In this case, I do agree with all the praise the book has gotten. I do not know what kind of research the author did because it seemed a very realistic portrayal of an English butler. Stevens very strongly believes in his role as a butler to support the important men in the country. At sometimes he seems blindly loyal to his employer because he does not seem to understand the serious mistakes in judgement Lord Darlington makes. Even though Stevens is not a perfect person, there is something endearing about him that draws you into the story. ( )
  marymatus | Jan 12, 2022 |
Somehow I never saw the movie adaptation of this novel. I am so glad I got to read it first, not knowing at all how it would unfold.

I knew nothing of this book except that it had a butler as a main character - so I was really able to experience all the revelations Stevens has about himself, the Lord that he worked for and life in general as it was exposed ever so slowly in the book. It is so subtle and delicately written. The only other work by Ishiguro that I have read was Never Let Me Go and I can see that these two books - so unalike in every way as to plots - have the same soft feel - the slow unraveling of events and the realization of the characters as they come to understand things about themselves in real time to us who are reading the books. I will certainly read more Ishiguro. ( )
  alanna1122 | Jan 9, 2022 |
There are books I find challenging to evaluate. I find it difficult to calculate their emotional or psychological impact after I read that last page. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro was one of those. I struggled with liking or relating to Stevens, but the writing…the subtle yet impactful exploration of whether a life was well lived or not, lived with dignity or not, valuable in its own right or not, was superb. I’m reading this at a time when I find myself looking back and pondering some of my choices, which makes me wonder if I would have found the book boring when I was younger. No matter, I like it now.

I was utterly frustrated by Stevens’ inability to step out of his role to create a life, make a grab at love, question, bypass restraint, yet also struck by his sense of loyalty and steadfast conscientiousness towards his profession, all of which included absolute restraint. I take it back…there were some aspects that were relatable, such as the ability to compartmentalize to get a job done no matter what may be happening in a personal life.

I struggled with the ending but, after some thought, decided I liked it. It showed restraint in not making a play for a woman that still struggled with her feelings about her marriage and possibly causing more damage. It showed his ability to “grow” and adapt at a time when his profession was dying.

He took stock and decided to move forward and there is much to be admired in that: “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.” I’m sorry Mr. Stevens. I judged you too harshly in the beginning.

I also enjoyed the dry humor. Good grief…the attempts at the “birds and bees” conversation with young Mr. Cardinal and the misunderstanding as to what the briefcase contained had me in stitches.

For my notes:

—Steven’s lack of empathy and little white lies were off-putting, and both congruent and incongruent with his moral code (I know…makes no sense but the argument could be made either way: He was adhering to the tenets of his conduct code that prevented him from disclosing certain information. But it could also be argued he was just emotionally stunted!
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- I liked his positive and hopeful outlook on the concept of “dignity” and that it can be a learned trait or behavior.
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- I have some thoughts on whether some aspects are a parody of Britain’s culture and political milieu of the time but I’m not well versed enough in the historical and political context to know if that is what I’m seeing (food for thought for another time)
  Eosch1 | Dec 30, 2021 |
fascinating character study of an EXTREMELY “stiff upper lip” butler, grappling with feelings of loyalty in the face of disappointment. and also an inability to confess one’s true feelings after a lifetime of suppression and subservience. truly fascinating. ( )
  austinburns | Dec 16, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 386 (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 (33 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ishiguro, Kazuoprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bützow, HeleneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Daryab̄andi, NajafTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hawthorne, NigelReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kriek, BarthoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miteva, PravdaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prebble, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rybicki, JanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Saracino, Maria AntoniettaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stiehl, HermannTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
West, DominicNarratorsecondary 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.
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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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.

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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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