Kazuo Ishiguro is a British novelist, screenwriter, and short story writer.
Mr. Ishiguro has published seven celebrated novels, and in October 2017 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, the literary world’s highest honor.
Mr. Ishiguro is best known for his novel “The Remains of the Day.” The book is the winner of the Booker Prize in 1989. Here is a small write up on why this novel is so special. Hope you enjoy it!
Do you know anyone who has difficulty talking about their feelings, dreams, what makes them happy or angry? The Remains of the Day is about such a man. Mr. Stevens is a butler and the chief of the staff in a huge English mansion called Darlington Hall. He has been working there for 34 long years. As you know, butlers are the perfect examples of the British standards of proper behaviour, what they call the ‘stiff upper lip’, which means no matter what happens in life, you do not react by declaring your feelings or being dramatic about it. In fact, professional butlers are renowned for being calm and composed no matter what emergency situation they encounter, be it a fire, theft, unexpected guests, an empty kitchen, or war.
This story is set in 1956, a few years after the second world war ended, Lord Darlington has died and the Hall is now purchased by an American industrialist, Mr. Farraday, who is quite nice and doesn’t want Mr. Stevens to be so quiet and grim. But Mr. Stevens thinks this is improper, unprofessional and doesn’t understand what the American expects him to do. Here’s the narrator, Mr Stevens, telling us about what he thinks about his job. He does have a long-winded way of speaking, but it’s marvellous how his vocabulary makes the use of regular words, in a clear way to communicate his ideas.
“…like many of us, I have a reluctance to change too much of the old ways. But there is no virtue at all in clinging as some do to tradition merely for its own sake. In this age of electricity and modern heating systems, there is no need at all to employ the sorts of numbers necessary even a generation ago. Indeed, it has actually been an idea of mine for some time that the retaining of unnecessary numbers simply for tradition’s sake — resulting in employees having an unhealthy amount of time on their hands — has been an important factor in the sharp decline in professional standards.”
Excerpt from ‘The Remains of the Day’
The story isn’t filled with much action, but is about what the butler remembers and how he slowly realises that he has never revealed his true feelings to anyone and perhaps that is why he is lonely. He goes on a journey to find a lady who worked in the mansion many years before, but it’s too late for him to reveal that he has always loved her.
He also has trouble accepting that his earlier employer, Lord Darlington, was not a very nice man. Although he worked for him for decades, he realised too late that Lord Darlington was actually supporting the Nazis! It can be quite a shock to realise that you were helping a person who was on the side of the bad guys.
How does the story end? Well, the story doesn’t have a happy ending, but the reason why many people love this book is because it is written so well. Not many books can hold your interest if it doesn’t have a lot of things happening in it, and this book is a simple story about an old man who realises that his life has been one of many regrets. He has dignity but no one who loves him. The author does a wonderful job of sharing this old man’s sorrows and memories. It helps you realise how you can better express your own feelings and understand those who cannot.
*The Booker Prize is an international award given to the best original novel written in English and published in UK. It started in 1969 and is a very prestigious award. The judges are chosen by a panel comprising a librarian, bookseller, publisher, literary agents, an author, and a chairperson of the Booker Trust Foundation.
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