Kazuo Ishiguro: The Remains of the Day, 1989
Kazuo Ishiguro was born in Nagasaki, Japan, in 1954 and came to Britain at the age of five. He is
the author of four novels:
A Pale View of Hills (1982)
An Artist of the Floating World (1986)
The Remains of the Day (1989, winner of the Booker Prize)
The Unconsoled (1995)
Ishiguro's work has been translated into 25 languages. The Remains of the Day became an
international bestseller, with over a million copies sold in the English language alone, and was
adapted into an award-winning film starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson.
Ishiguro now lives in London with his wife and daughter.
The corresponding notes (not available before January 2001) can be ordered here:
Stevens, the protagonist of the novel, has been given the rare opportunity to go on
a tour of southwestern England in a Ford by his American master, the new
proprietor of Darlington Hall, where he has served as a butler before to the famous
Lord Darlington until the latter's death. While Stevens is touring the English
countryside he recollects countless incidents and experiences all connected with
his work as a butler at the manor house in Oxfordshire.
Stevens is a character who suppresses his own feelings and emotions in order to
serve his masters, esp. the Lord of Darlington Hall, as perfectly as possible. He
strives to be the personification of an English butler. Even when his father (also a
butler) dies, does he feel more obliged by his duties as a butler than by those of a son. His main
aim in life is to achieve 'dignity', which for him is foremost loyalty to his master whatever
circumstances are. Even when the Lord is suspected to sympathize with the Nazis, would Stevens
never dream of criticizing, let alone blaming him. Being as loyal as he is, he would not even think
of a love affair or even marriage.
The setting of the story is England's 1920s and 1930s and allows the reader to gain a fantastic
insight into the life of a country house, its owner and its butler and his staff. The novel is an
allegory on Stevens' life as well as on the decline of the British Empire.
I would also recommend the novel to be read in an advanced course (Leistungskurs) for its quality
of the English language (neither slang nor obscene language). The technique of narration, the
means of presentation, devices of the interior monologue, stream of consciousness or flashbacks
can well be studied.