Thoughts on Remains of the Day
It's been some time since I read this book. Commenting here is not something I'm ever wont to do, but I am such a fan of Kazuo Ishiguro that I can't resist a brief comment or two.
When I'm in a bookstore, I will always check the "I" section of lit to see if there is a new Ishiguro. And if there is, it leaves with me. Ishiguro is to me simply the finest living writer of English; no waiting for any paperback.
Remains of the Day was the first Ishiguro I read after seeing the movie. I can't put my finger on what it is and how he does it, but Ishiguro has a way of playing with time in his books. There are times when he carries you, the reader, far back in some reminiscence and then gently and elegantly brings you back and sets you down in the present. It is seamless and breathtaking to me.
What I took away from the book was the concept of a person's place, a concept that seems quaint and one we no longer fathom, but Stevens is very cognizant of his place and finds a role for himself in that place as a servant. To Stevens -- and, I suspect, Ishiguro -- there is no loss of dignity in serving. Indeed, we can talk of serving society and mankind and there is nothing but that which is noble associated with that; there is now, though, isn't there, a notion that if we serve a master, an employer, a spouse, there is something low and base in that.
I saw Remains while living in Japan. My next Ishiguro was An Artist of the Floating World and that for me is still his finest work. Having lived in Japan over an extended period, I have to say that this book more accurately conveys things Japanese -- customs, manners of address and speaking, choice of words by males and by females -- better than anything I've ever read before or since. Come to think of it, I may in Lord Darlington fashion give the PRS-350 the evening off while I do some re-reading.
Thanks for listening.