The Remains of the Day
by Kazuo Ishiguro
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Published: May 1989
Synopsis: In 1956, Stevens, a long-serving butler at Darlington Hall, decides to take a motoring trip through the West Country. The six-day excursion becomes a journey into the past of Stevens and England, a past that takes in fascism, two world wars, and an unrealised love between the butler and his housekeeper. Ishiguro’s dazzling novel is a sad and humorous love story, a meditation on the condition of modern man, and an elegy for England at a time of acute change. (cr.: Goodreads)
So the whole story twirls around an old English butler Stevens, who’s recalling all his past on his six-day journey around England, mostly his time serving at Darlington Hall. This is the story about how a man abdicated his own personality for his unquestionable loyalty to Lord Darlington. Stevens had spent his life serving to Darlington Hall, only to find himself unable to serve the new owner of the mansion, who’s an American, the way he used to serve the English.
Those were pretty pleasant 4 hours of reading on plane to Singapore and back. Stevens, on one side, showed full passion for his job, despite any kind of force majeure situations; he was strict, never argued, never complained, never disobeyed. A perfect butler for a huge mansion such as Darlington Hall. On the other hand, he completely cuts off his “human” side: he had little to zero feelings to respond with, be it his father’s death or the unspoken crush the housekeeper had on Stevens. He knows the value of a good servant, but if Lord says to dismiss for any kind of reason, Stevens would heartlessly leave even the best servants without job. All just because it was Lord’s order.
And this six-day trip around England was kind of time for him to think of all of that, and, thanks to strangers he keeps meeting on the way, to realise that he simply threw all his life away for serving. I agree that you should be passionate about what you do for a living, but you also should never forget about what do you want to feel yourself “alive”. Stevens never had his own opinion; if you read the whole story, he always had references or other people’s opinions stuck in his head to speak out. He never, for a second, forgot about his duties, even when his father died. I think it’s a good resemblance to our daily lives as well: we work our asses off for a living, only to realise at the end that we forgot to live, forgot to take care of someone dear to us.
This book, in my opinion, contain a very meaningful message for all us, that is not to forget to live the actual life. You shouldn’t delay anything that you were dreaming or planning to do for a long time. When’s the best time to start if not now?
Have you read this book? What do you think of it? What kind of character is Stevens for you? How would you evaluate him throughout this book? Let me now here in the comments!
See you in my next book adventure,
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