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Thread: The remains of the day by Kazuo Ishiguro

  1. #1
    Registered User jinjang's Avatar
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    The remains of the day by Kazuo Ishiguro

    Any of you read The remains of the day by Kazuo Ishiguro?

    It was a life of a perfectionist butler who served an English lord without questioning what the lord does. He was an immaculate butler who may have done some wrongs by following his master's orders. What would be the meaning of his life? He said the quote below at the end of the book. I can't help feeling it could be our lives as well.

    "One can't be forever dwelling on what might have been. One should realize one has as good as most, perhaps better and be grateful. The evening's the best part of the day. I should cease looking back so much. I should adopt a more positive outlook and try to make the best of what remains of the day. 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 wished? 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 of pride and contentment."
    Walk, meditate, forget - Victor Hugo
    Life is bigger than literature - Michael Cunningham

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    I thought the point of the book was that the butler's perfectionism got in the way of his love for the housekeeper.

    For me, this was really a perfect book. It's my personal "Booker of Bookers" rather than "Midnight's Children."

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    Also he had devoted his life to a man who had been unworthy - a supporter of Hitler and the Nazi movement - and a traitor to his country, in that he was giving aid to the Enemy. He had followed in his father's footsteps blindly and began to think for himself too late in the day.

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    I absolutely loved this book. It's beautifully written, and Stevens is a wonderfully conceived character, so blind to his own faults, realising only too late that his conception of 'greatness' is really his downfall.

    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 of pride and contentment.
    Even though, at the end, he realises that his unquestioning professionalism and contant supression of emotion has had a profoundly negative effect on the trajectory of his life, he doesn't seem to allow himself to comprehend the full significance of this.

    Did anyone see the film version? Worth watching?

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    It's a beautiful beautiful book. I remember it was part of one of our university courses when I first read it, and I must have read it three or four time more ever since. Perfect prose, perfect dialogs. It's almost flawless, in my opinion. I haven't seen the film version, though. I tend to avoid fims based on my favourite books, because it seems that they are always massacred by film-makers.
    None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe that they are free.
    -Goethe

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by electricpenguin View Post
    ...Did anyone see the film version? Worth watching?
    Yes. It is one of the few film adaptations that is not only true to the book but illuminates it, imo. And I'm not just saying that because Anthony Hopkins was in it!

  7. #7
    I am son of Rikds. Im reading this for A level.

    I feel that Lord Darlington cannot be view as entirely unworthy. He is caught up in what, at the time, was a very influential movement towards the World War II. He is not really aware of his influences on the matter and does not mean to cause harm to his nation.

    I enjoyed the film adaptation although I think that when Stevens (Hopkins) did show emotion it was wrongly placed. He came across as far to aggressive in parts and yet a weaker character in others.

    In general I am not a huge fan of the novel. It lacks what I look for to stimulate my mind.
    Just my thoughts.
    Ollids

  8. #8
    I read another of Ishiguro's books, "An Artist of the Floating World", before I read "The Remains of the Day", and initially had difficulties getting through it. It took a while, but I finally realized that the book was not at all about plot, very little actually happens, that Ishiguro's novels are about the internal dialogue that his characters have and their interactions with those around them.

    I can't comment on the rest of Ishiguro's work, but at least with those two that was the main focus of the books, the characters' soul searching. The events that both of them recount are simply part of the self-reflection and remembrance that everyone undertakes. I felt that Ishiguro's characters were incredibly well developed; having all of the self-deceptions, insecurities, misunderstandings, and forgetfulness that any real person would have. In many ways, Ishiguro's characters could be real people, and he has just compiled their biographies.

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    Registered User jinjang's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Akeldama View Post
    (T)he book was not at all about plot, very little actually happens, that Ishiguro's novels are about the internal dialogue that his characters have and their interactions with those around them.

    I can't comment on the rest of Ishiguro's work, but at least with those two that was the main focus of the books, the characters' soul searching. The events that both of them recount are simply part of the self-reflection and remembrance that everyone undertakes. I felt that Ishiguro's characters were incredibly well developed; having all of the self-deceptions, insecurities, misunderstandings, and forgetfulness that any real person would have. In many ways, Ishiguro's characters could be real people, and he has just compiled their biographies.
    Thank you very much. It is such a good description of the book. The book got me to think about my own life. What would I say about my own at the end of it? I do not have the religion to comfort me and have to find the meaning somewhere else. I wouldn't wish any comments regarding religions, because the religion is part of my inner search. Can one really say we lived well, "whatever the outcome," if we really strive on what we do? Would not it be similar to say that the meaning of our pain and suffering is our gained wisdom from it? Some do suffer and even die without gaining any wisdom. I may be too result-driven. Aspiration should be good in itself.
    Walk, meditate, forget - Victor Hugo
    Life is bigger than literature - Michael Cunningham

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Rikds View Post
    ....I feel that Lord Darlington cannot be view as entirely unworthy. He is caught up in what, at the time, was a very influential movement towards the World War II. He is not really aware of his influences on the matter and does not mean to cause harm to his nation....
    Good morning, Rikds, welcome to the Forum.

    re: Lord Darlington - he may not have intended to cause harm to his nation but even before the war, the extreme right wing faction was viewed with great suspicion. Oswald Moseley, the leader of the British version of Nazism, and his followers made a lot of noise but had no extensive support country wide. I think any politically aware person would have been only too aware what fraternisation with Germany implied - I agree there were some influention people who wanted to appease Germany and I think their motives may well have been twofold: primarily, many wanted to avoid war at any cost and could not bear the thought of another total war so soon after the Great War; secondly, and this is my cynical interpretation, they were thinking long-term of their own personal power - if there were to be a war and Germany were to win, bearing in mind that the Government of the day was making no preparations for war so it was quite possible that Germany would win, these supporters of Germany would find themselves in the debt of the victors and in a position to ask for their due reward. As I said, a very cynical view!

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