Reading ➿ The Remains of the Day Author Kazuo Ishiguro – Andy-palmer.co.uk
4.5 5 StarsKazuo Ishiguro just won the Nobel Prize for Literature this year and this book supports that achievement The Remains of the Day is a wonderful book to close my reading year in 2017.This book was first published in 1989 and since then, there have been countless professional reviews on it that everything I said here although they are my honest opinion would most likely be just something similar to any of those reviews That s why I ll keep this brief The Remains of the Day is a thoroughly beautiful bookIf you are under the impression you have already perfected yourself, you will never rise to the heights you are no doubt capable ofThis is my first time reading Ishiguro s book and it certainly won t be the last I bought The Remains of the Day on a whim a few days ago when I was on vacation in Bangkok There, I visited Kinokuniya bookstore and I saw this gorgeous looking Kinokuniya exclusive commemorative edition of this book.With absolutely no knowledge on what this book was about, I was left very satisfied with my purchase by the end of my read Most of the story in this book revolves around Stevens a gentleman and highly professional butler who went on a six days vacation and during his vacation, we get to see his past This is truly a beautiful book about regret, dignity, repression, decisions, acceptance, and most of all, memories There are a lot of messages that can be taken from this book but in my opinion, the most dominant one is to never dwell on the pastAfter 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 wishedHighly atmospheric, combined with Ishiguro s incredible prose that gives hidden beauty and messages within each word and paragraphs, The Remains of the Day compelled me to read the book within two sittings It s that good Ishiguro s prose here is truly a delight to read, it s evocative, beautiful, and inspirational.If I was reading this back when I was maybe 15 years old, this book probably wouldn t have that much impact simply because there weren t enough monumental turning points to ponder yet But reading this now, there are tons of passages I can relate to It all comes down to this we can t ever turn back the clock, cherish every momentBut what is the sense in forever speculating what might have happened had such and such a moment turned out differently One could presumably drive oneself to distraction in this way In any case, while it is all very well to talk of turning points , one can surely only recognize such moments in retrospectI heard from plenty of readers that this is Kazuo s best work and I can certainly vouch for the praises This book is a piece of literature that came out of nowhere into my life and somehow, ended up becoming a book that I know I will always remember You can find this and the rest of my Adult Epic High Fantasy Sci Fi reviews at BookNest So Ishiguro has won the noble prize for literature 2017 This quote from the yeasterday s guardian article says it all to me The British author Kazuo Ishiguro said he was both honoured and taken completely by surprise after he was named this year s winner of the 2017 Nobel prize in literature, even initially wondering if the announcement was a case of fake news.Part of me feels like an imposter and part of me feels bad that I ve got this before other living writers, said Ishiguro Haruki Murakami, Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, Cormac McCarthy, all of them immediately came into my head and I just thought wow, this is a bit of a cheek for me to have been given this before them.Ishiguro is good, and this book is very good It totally deserved the man booker prize, but did Ishiguro really deserve the noble prize for literature Food for thought This was phenomenal Ishiguro has such a developed way of exploring consciousness, the power of repression, self serving denial and the destructive consequences of regret The narrator of this is a stiffly rigid and rather dry old butler He has given everything over to his profession he has left little room for his own personality to develop The character s he emulates are a mere representation of his employer s needs he behaves in a way that he thinks they wish him to he creates a persona to suit each one So, there is very little left of the individual left on the surface He is simply is professional butler modelled round his current employers own characteristics What he so desperately needed was an awakening he so desperately needed to come out of himself and remember exactly who he is under the false layers of pomp and sophisticated etiquette But, that would be impossible in its entirety It takes Stevenson a long time even remember who he is He goes on a journey of remembrances, and through this he eventually sees the parallels between his own fate and that of his father s he realises that he, too, is getting too old for his job But, he must delve even deeper into the past to fully remember himself He must see deeper into the regretful decisions he has made, though he can never fully acknowledge such regret because to do so would be to destroy himself, rendering an entire life meaningless, worthless and wasted He has spent his entire professional life behind a mask He has no real friends, and his relationship with his farther is strained, to say the least There are a few moments when the veil slips however, they are not really visible to other characters I think at times, this has gone so far that, Stevenson actually forgets who he is The mask takes over and controls his behaviour there is little room for sentiment or friendship it pushes people away with its austere act of singular professionalismDo you realize, Mr Stevens, how much it would have meant to me if you had though to share your feeling last year You knew how upset I was when the girls were dismissed Do you realize how much it would have helped me Why, Mr Stevens, why, why, why do you always have to pretendUnfortunately for Stevens he continues to wear this mask It s led to all of these bad feelings, and a life of servitude Indeed, he becomes like his farther He is stuck in this perpetual state His brief holiday sends all his memories crashing back he sees the different paths he could have taken had he been open to his own desires There are degrees of regret within his story, but he cannot full let go he cannot fully admit that he wishes he had lived his own life He has gone too far to simply change his ways If he changed now, his life would have been a waste He must continue on this road, one that will not allow him to enjoy the remains of his days This is a sad novel it depicts a character that is so unbelievably stubborn that he prevents himself from receiving any regeneration or redemption He cannot change, and this is his doom He is frustrating and stoic He is a nonchalant man who simply refuses to acknowledge his own feelings As a character he is superbly written, but on an individual level I found him somewhat pitiable This is part of the wonder of the story, though Stevens is his role he will never transgress it I just felt so sorry for him because he really has had a wasted life yes, he has had a successful career yes, he has met some prestigious political figures and foreign dignitaries yes, he believes he is accomplished and successful, but, at the route of things, he is undeniably woeful and lonely These are simply the excuses he tells himself He has missed out on friendship and love he has only experienced solitude and isolation In this, Ishiguro delivers an awe inspiringly powerful statement in regards to the dangers of a life of pretending This was moving, compelling and excellent This won t be the last Ishiguro novel I read I m literally amazed at how good this book was. Librarian S Note See Alternate Cover Edition Of ISBN 0571225381 Here.In The Summer Of 1956, Stevens, A Long Serving Butler At Darlington Hall, Decides To Take A Motoring Trip Through The West Country The Six Day Excursion Becomes A Journey Into The Past Of Stevens And England, A Past That Takes In Fascism, Two World Wars, And An Unrealised Love Between The Butler And His Housekeeper. It s not what happens in this story that s important, it s what doesn t happen It s not what is said, but what is not said.I almost feel like Stevens in a real person and not a fictional character He may well be the most tragic figure I ve had the honor to meet read He tried so hard to do what he thought to be the right thing and in the end it all turned out to the wrong thingI cried for at least a half hour after I finished the final page It was a bittersweet moment when he admitted to his heart breakingI hurt so badly for him but for the first time he acknowledge his emotions and so I was happy for me.This story reminds me of why it is important to LIVE your life.I do hope Stevens uses the remains of his day to learn to banter and create friendships for himself I think perhaps he will. Beautiful, beautiful book, wonderful writing, great story I am now officially a fan of Ishiguro, a book so different from Never let me go, which was also an incredible story to me This story however is very different but equally high quality, which in my opinion indicates the quality of the writer, able to put down totally different stories, both intriguing in their own way It is beautiful in language, heartbreaking in storyline, gives a view of life in England in between wars and how politics also reaches an English grand house, and also gives you food for thought on what is important in your life dignity.work love anyway,beautiful book 4,5 stars. 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 itI suppose what one really needs at the end of it all, in the twilight of life, is to know that it was worth something, that there was some meaning, some purpose to it Because if it was all in vain, why even try With The Remains of the Day Kazuo Ishiguro created a masterpiece, mesmerizing, evocative, subtle, elegant and perfectly crafted, with precise mastery of language, setting and characters At its heart, it s a story of searching for something irrevocably lost in life, a story of memory and its elusive unreliability It s beautiful and haunting, with initial rose tinged glow of nostalgia slowly and subtly morphing into quiet gentle regret, managing to coexist with dry humor and bits of satire It s a book of uncommon quality, one that s impossible to forget, one that deserves every ounce of praise that s it s been showered with.What is dignity What is greatness How do you define your purpose These are questions Stevens a quintessential English butler at the twilight of his life not surprisingly coinciding with the twilight of the British Empire ponders during his drive through the countryside in the search of an old friend, a former housekeeper who, Stevens thinks, would make a great addition to the dwindled staff of a once great manor now owned by a rich American after the death of its former aristocratic owner, the Lord in whose employ Stevens had faithfully spent several decades To Stevens, the answers are initially clear the purpose and satisfaction, the all elusive dignity itself lies in the unquestionable loyalty and devotion to the great ones of this world, by association with whom you matter, too But as the miles roll by, the pull of Darlington Hall seems to lessen and bit by bit, flashback by flashback in a surprisingly formal stream of consciousness the glimpses of the truth begin to appear, and how unsettling they are Bit by bit, mostly not through what he tells us but instead precisely through what he does not tell we come to see that poor Stevens is perhaps the most unreliable narrator there ever was.Starting from a formal, stiff but still confident narration at the beginning of Stevens journey, we end up eventually on a bench on a pier, glimpsing into his very private pain and heartbreak as he contemplates the remains of his life at the titular remains of the day Bit by bit, through at times reluctant, limited and yet unfailingly honest narration we get to experience the story of a man who put loyalty and faithful service above all, pursuing the coveted dignity, clinging to the well defined class roles and rigid expectations, denying his own self in attempts to live up to the duty, the quintessential Englishness that already in his time is becoming obsoleteHowever, if a butler is to be of any worth to anything or anybody in life, there must surely come a time when he ceases his searching a time when he must say to himself This employer embodies all that I find noble and admirable I will hereafter devote myself to serving himStevens, the most unreliable narrator, manages to show us so much precisely through the things that he fails to tell the reader It s what s left unsaid that paints the real picture the disappointments, the loss, the lonely empty existence intentionally devoid of love and warmthIt is hardly my fault if his lordship s life and work have turned out today to look, at best, a sad waste and it is quite illogical that I should feel any regret or shame on my own accountStevens in his earnest devotion remains loyal to the memory of Lord Darlington, never fully admitting that the man he had spent his life serving and admiring was in fact not so great And how can he After all, he has based his entire self worth, his entire sense of being on devotedly serving a supposedly great and noble man, feeling that in some little way he, Stevens, had something to do with shaping the fate of the world Openly admitting that Lord Darlington s made huge mistakes would shatter Stevens entire self, making everything useless missing his father s death, going along with bigotry and prejudice, and giving up a chance at love, warmth and human companionship And yet, at the end, just for a moment or so the impeccable facade of quintessential English butler cracks and a pained confused man faces the realizations that are too unsettling to avoidThe fact is, of course, I said after a while, I gave my best to Lord Darlington I gave him the very best I had to give, and now well I find I do not have a great deal left to give Lord Darlington wasn t a bad man He wasn t a bad man at all And at least he had the privilege of being able to say at the end of his life that he made his own mistakes His lordship was a courageous man He chose a certain path in life, it proved to be a misguided one, but there, he chose it, he can say that at least As for myself, I cannot even claim that You see, I trusted I trusted in his lordship s wisdom All those years I served him, I trusted I was doing something worthwhile I can t even say I made my own mistakes Really one has to ask oneself what dignity is there in thatThe Remains of the Day is a book of loss and love and regret, of things that define us and shape us, about trust and loyalty misplaced and hopes and dreams crushed, of selective memory and carefully constructed in self defense universes that let us try to be what we aspire to be, and the cold brush with reality that inevitably comes To borrow Stevens pained unexpected revelation,Indeed why should I not admit it in that moment, my heart was breaking 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 wishedWonderful 5 stars. In My Top 3 of All Time It is Most Profound in So Many Ways Regret came shivering through my veins,And bound my tongue in iron chains My soul in prison seem d to be,And ever must if torn from thee. The Recall to Affection, Susanna Blamire There s a shadow hanging over me Oh, yesterday came suddenly. Yesterday, Lennon McCartney, 1965It is nearly impossible to describe this novel without at least alluding as I do to what is the most heartbreaking scene of all the literature I have read Ishiguro s novel whisks the human memory its capacity, reliability, fallibility and combustibility As the story moves forward, he drops clues to the murkiness of the manservant narrator Stevens recollections of decades in service at Darlington Hall and his relationship with the head maid, Ms Kenton Ishiguro writes in wispy cirrus that veil memories which progressively trough into colossal cumulus columns looming in darkness ready in a flash to thunderbolt the human heart I cannot say without revealing a spoiler I can say this exceptionally profound novel is unrivaled in illuminating, and getting through to the reader on, two themes that are potentially life changing for most every reader 1 the heartbreaking nature of reflecting and forever speculating what might have happened had such and such a moment turned out differently while it is all very well to talk of turning points , one can surely only recognize such moments in retrospect Naturally, when one looks back to such instances today, they may indeed take the appearance of being crucial, precious moments in one s life but of course, at the time, this was not the impression one had Rather, it was as though one had available a never ending number of days, months, years in which to sort out the vagaries of one s relationship s an infinite number of further opportunities in which to remedy the effect of this or that misunderstanding and, perhaps there is something to the advice that that one should adopt a positive outlook and try to make the best of what remains of the day and, conversely,2 the crucial realization that one should look now for the crucial and precious moments in and of today, and should make every effort to sort out a relationship in one s life and endeavor to remedy misunderstandings with others Indeed, we lose sight of the fact particularly when we re young that there are NOT a never ending number of days and one should not wait for tomorrow, at which point today will be one yesterday Death twitches my ear Live, he says I m coming. VirgilWhat could one ask of a piece of literature than the opportunity for enlightenment and this moral that we should wake up, listen to the heart and, by all means, follow it Today or as soon as practicably possible This novel made me recall a quote I saw years ago in school i n the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you M.J Adler 190 The Remains of the Day, Kazuo IshiguroThe Remains of the Day , is a 1989 novel by Nobel Prize winning British writer, Kazuo Ishiguro In the summer of 1956, Stevens, a long serving butler at Darlington Hall, decides to take a motoring trip through the West Country The six day excursion becomes a journey into the past of Stevens and England, a past that takes in fascism, two world wars, and an unrealised love between the butler and his housekeeper 1997 1375 9644310020 20 Just announced as Winner of the Nobel Prize 2017 Well deserved Every day, for the past week I ve encouraged myself to start writing this review It feelt impossible to find my words to discuss such a literary masterpiece Who gives me the right to even try After staring blankly at the screen for some time, I finally remembered a beautiful passage that can perfectly describe what I felt about this novel So, I will let the author describe his work Although the quote depicts the magnificent English countryside It can be applied to the novel as wellWhat is pertinent is the calmness of beauty, its sense of restraint It is as though the land knows of its own beauty, its own greatness, and feels no need to shout it I believe that a restrained beauty is what characterizes The Remains of the Day and the voice of its main character, Stevens As it was also the case in Never let me Go, the message is hidden in the beautiful pages, only suggested, it comes to the reader in the form of a knot in the stomach or throat and the feelings linger for many days while one ponders on the meaning of his her lifeWhat 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 Williams Stevens is a one of the few remaining great , devoted butlers, employed most of his life at Darlington Hall in the service of Lord Darlington After the war and the death of its owner the manor changes its ownership but the reduced staff remains with the new employer, an American known as Mr Farraday When the new owner returns to the States for a few weeks he proposes to Stevens to borrow his car and enjoy a drive in the countryside Although reluctant at first, the butler decides to take on the offer after he receives a letter from a former housekeeper of the Hall, Miss Kenton to who it seems that he holds some affection He decides to visit her in order to suggest to return to work at the Hall The trip becomes the perfect occasion for revisiting the most important moments of Stevens past and to meditate on how his loyalty to his master and his decisions or lack of, made him lose certain opportunities to have a fulfilled emotional lifeBut what is the sense in forever speculating what might have happened had such and such a moment turned out differently One could presumably drive oneself to distraction in this way In any case, while it is all very well to talk of turning points , one can surely only recognize such moments in retrospect Naturally, when one looks back to such instances today, they may indeed take the appearance of being crucial, precious moments in one s life but of course, at the time, this was not the impression one had Rather, it was as though one had available a never ending number of days, months, years in which to sort out the vagaries of one s relationship with Miss Kenton an infinite number of further opportunities in which to remedy the effect of this or that misunderstanding There was surely nothing to indicate at the time that such evidently small incidents would render whole dreams forever irredeemable The language used by the author is beautiful, exquisite It is the voice of the butler who writes in the restrained, formal manner suitable for his job The effect is mesmerizing, sometimes comical and other times heartbreaking in Steven s incapacity to shed his role even for a second and live for himselfI can t even say I made my own mistakes Really one has to ask oneself what dignity is there in that Beautiful, emotional book that I warmly recommend to everyone. This is one of the most beautifully mannered, subtle books I ve read in a long, long time Ishiguro s command of prose is perfect there was never a point where I felt that this book wasn t written by a consummate English gentleman s gentleman Remains of the Day is also one of the best examples of first person POV that I ve read Stevens voice is always clear and distinct, and always used to frame the narrative in such a way that the reader is able to see things and guess things which the protagonist cannot For all that Stevens himself agonises over banter and wit and how to be amusing, this book is very funny itself in some places it s a fine example of a comedy of manners The subtlety of it all, and Stevens often painful obliviousness to social cues really lends itself well to that Highly, highly recommended.