Remains of the Day (Ishiguro)

The Remains of the Day 
Kazuo Ishiguro, 1989
Knopf Doubleday
256 pp.
ISBN-13: 9780679731726

Winner, 1989 Man Booker Prize
Winner, 2017 Nobel Prize

The novel The Remains of the Day tells the story of Stevens, an English butler who dedicates his life to the loyal service of Lord Darlington (mentioned in increasing detail in flashbacks).

The novel begins with Stevens receiving a letter from an ex co-worker called Miss Kenton, describing her married life, which he believes hints at her unhappy marriage. Stevens' new employer, Mr. Farraday, who Stevens fails to hold in high esteem, then grants permission for Stevens to borrow the car to take a break.

As he sets out on the motoring trip and meets the long since retired housekeeper, Miss Kenton, he ponders (via numerous flashbacks) his previous actions and his feelings of love for Miss Kenton, which she silently reciprocated. Both characters failed to ever fully admit their true feelings for one another. Arguably this is due to the lack of communication between the pair; throughout the flashbacks, the majority of their interactions are through conflict and confrontation.

Many of Stevens' memories are biased, leaving the reader with the impression that he is an unreliable narrator. Yet throughout the novel, he prides himself on his attention to detail, which leads the reader to believe that Stevens deliberately mis-remembers or alters his recollections so that they cast him in a better light. These purposefully altered memories support what he wants to believe, that there is still a chance for him and Miss Kenton. (From Wikipedia.)

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