October 16, 2009

The Remains of the Day

Kazuo Ishiguro: The Remains of the Day (1989)

Somehow it’s a very sad story. There is an English butler, Mr Stevens, who has his philosophy of the importance of dignity. It looks like sometimes, it is the most important thing in his life. His whole life is intended for this principle. Of course, when someone serves other people for a lifetime, it can be an important principle quite easily. But reading Mr Stevens’ reminiscences of his life in Darlington Hall, there is a dissonance between what he says and what other people (we, the readers too) may think about him.

In the main line of the story, we are in the 1950’s, Darlington Hall the former home of the noble Darlington family has a new owner, an American, Mr Faraday. The feelings, that everything has changed after the ww2 extremely, is still there. The good old, “classical” English life seems to be over forever.

Mr Farraday encourages Stevens to borrow a car to take a well-earned break, a "motoring trip." And Stevens receives a letter from an ex-colleague, Miss Kenton (Mrs. Benn) at the same time. So Stevens starts this motoring trip, and he is going to visit Ms Kenton, and hopes, that the woman wants back after 20 years to Darligton Hall.

This trip is very strange. Stevens meets (mostly) accidentally a lot of people, and he can’t talk about other themes, only just about dignity. He is sometimes very ridiculous, and still we feel also sorry for him.

During this trip we can read also Stevens reminiscences about the life in Darlington Hall in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Lord Darlington was a friend of the Germans, he wanted to help the diplomatic talk between the UK and Germany, and there was a conference in the 1920’s in Darlington Hall also with American and French guests. It’s sometimes hard to decide, what kind of man Lord Darlington was. (And Stevens opinion even doesn’t help us.) Was he an old-fashioned gentleman, who wants to help the loser of a war? An amateur diplomat? Or he was someone who turely sympathized with the Nazi ideas? I think, he was an easily influenced man, a bit stupid someone. But Steven idealises him. He notices, that other people have a different opinion, but he thinks Lord Darlington was a good man. But he doesn’t dare to speak about it, this is just his “internal” opinion. There are situations, when Stevens denies, that he was the butler of Lord Darlington.

I feel sorry for Stevens is many situations. He thinks, he is indispensable at an international conference, he has to work even more than perfect. But while he wants to fill the expectations of his employer and the guests, his father dies, and the housekeeper, Miss Kenton leaves Darlington Hall. The people leaves him, who really needs him, really want to be with him.
Very sad, but still a wonderful story.

(This review was written for the challenge: Fall into Reading 09)

Take a look at my list for this challenge here...

2 megjegyzés:

The romantic query letter and the happy-ever-after said...

The book is brilliant and your review excellent. I enjoyed visiting your blog and will return often now I’ve found it. Thanks for sharing.
All the very best,

Marie said...

I loved this book so much. Thanks for the awesome review. Ishiguro is now one of my favorite writers!

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