The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

remainsoftheday
1. First lines 2. Publisher: Faber 3. Butler silhouette  4. Man on bench
The “remains of the day” (days/things/people left in a person’s life) has special meaning for Stevens who has many regrets. Advice to himself? Make the best of it.

Plot summary: In 1956 Mr Stevens, a butler at a grand mansion in England, looks back on his career as he takes a holiday by car through the West Country. His reminiscences tell a story of misguided loyalty, of repressed feelings, and of the concept of duty as a necessity.


Quotes from the book:

  • “… the evening is the most enjoyable part of the day. Perhaps, then, there is something to his advice that I should cease looking back so much, that I should adopt a more positive outlook and try to make the best of what remains of my day.” 
  • “… in bantering lies the key to human warmth”
  • “Indeed — why should I not admit it? — in that moment, my heart was breaking.”
  • “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?”

Adaptation:

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The motion picture adaptation was released by Columbia Pictures in 1994, starring Sir Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. Source: Wikipedia

Awards:

  • Winner 1989 Man Booker Prize
  • Kazuo Ishiguro is the 2017 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature for his body of work.

Reviews:

“… a tour de force– both a compelling psychological study and a portrait of a vanished social order.” Full review: Publishers Weekly

” … a strikingly original book, and beautifully made. Reading it, one has an unusual sense of being controlled by the author. Each element is unobtrusively anticipated, then released in its proper place. Stevens’s Plod language creates a context which allows Kazuo Ishiguro to put a massive charge of pathos into a single unremarkable phrase. And within its precise confines, the book seems to make no appreciable mistakes. Some of the characters that Stevens meets on his trip to the west are excessively parodical. But there is no reason to think that this is not intended, since we have them, and their words, only in Stevens’s report.” 

Full review: Times Literary Supplement

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