The Remains of the Day
The Remains of the Day) is a novel by the British writer and Nobel laureate in literature Kazuo Ishiguro from 1989 for which Ishiguro was awarded the Booker Prize in the year of its first publication. In 2015, 82 international literary critics and scholars voted The Remains of the Day one of the most important British novels.
In Ishiguro’s novel, the butler Stevens tells of his life at the Darlington Hall manor in Oxfordshire. After the Lord’s death, the property was sold to the American millionaire Farraday, the manorial business was severely restricted, many rooms were mothballed and the service staff reduced to a few. As it turned out, the interventions were too strong to cope with the remaining tasks and it had to be rescheduled.
This is where the storyline begins. Farraday offers Stevens that during his five-week stay in the United States in late summer 1956 he could drive through England to relax in the old manorial Ford. Stevens combines the trip with a visit to the former housekeeper Miss Kenton in Cornwall, who told him in a letter that she had separated from her husband and that the butler now wants to bring back the gap in the staff caused by the many layoffs close with a reliable force.
During the week-long trip, Stevens tells of his memories of the good old days and presents his theory of the perfect butler: At its core is the dignity of the servant, i.e. H. the resignation of all personal needs behind the role. In Lord Darlington he believed that he had found the ideal employer, whom he trusted and whom he wanted to help achieve social success. He performed his task with the utmost discretion, served the guests with perfect restraint, never contradicted directly, but signaled approval and avoided discussions. His greatest satisfaction was when he and his team had had a great dinner without a breakdown, the overnight guests had left satisfied and the Lord praised him. The personal had to stand back, e.g. B. when he could not be with the dying father because he had to be available to the international conference participants.
Miss Kenton jumped in for him and closed the dead man’s eyes in his place. But her friendliness and advances, when she wanted to decorate his barren study with a bouquet of flowers or was interested in his private reading, he generally rejected brusquely and limited the conversations to business topics. He tried to hide the fact that he was reading a romance novel from Darlington’s library and, unbelievably, explains to the reader this reading with his further training efforts in elegant social conversation. The dry language in which he tells these stories is also characteristic of his suppression of personal needs. It looks bureaucratically precise, controlled and disciplined. He puts his statements about occasional unfriendly treatment or unjustified criticism into perspective immediately by considering relieving motives or situational moods of the people in order to prevent the impression of a lack of fairness. He always adapted, which he owed his employer, especially since he valued him as a philanthropist and a peacemaking politician.
The Remains of the Day is a general character study about distorted perception, but also a historically exact examination of the downside of much-praised British virtues such as reservedness, discretion, dignity and loyalty. The fact that Ishiguro, who was born in Nagasaki but was socialized early in England, involves the reader in the interpretation of his characters with the help of a subtle narrative style is what really makes the novel so strong. ”