Naturally, like many of us, I have a reluctance to change too many of the old ways. Thus it was that the last Thursday of the month, and indeed the last day of May, caused several of us in the service to gather around the fire in the servants hall at the residence of Sir Robert Woods in Oxfordshire. As it should be, it occurred at the traditional time, 7 o'clock in the evening.
Now for a great many people, the evening is the most enjoyable part of the day. Perhaps, then, there is something to your 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. 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? What, indeed, is our Legacy? The best we can hope for is to capture and publish a series of memorials and memoirs.
As you may surmise, Miss Kenton and I will not be in attendance at this Thursday's meeting, as we have run away for a fourth time from her marriage and are nesting in the Sangre de Cristos. I have taken the Ford of my former employer, and it is currently abandoned on a side road. Furthermore, Lord Ferrell is traversing the depths of what is now called the Irish Republic, or perhaps the Wilds of Scotland, and Surgeon Palmer is hosting revolutionaries from Boston and the Colonies. We requested Councilor Simon to collect the summary comments at the gathering of sympathizers and near-converts and provide them posthaste to myself or Miss Kenton. Those aforementioned comments appear below.
Ken – a bit slow but memorable, unusually well written, eye opening,
I enjoyed it Grade: A-
Tom – sympathize with Keith. I have a similar dislike for long paragraphs.
I liked the care Stevens took with language. For me it was a page-turner, I could not put it down. I felt for Stevens. Grade: firm A
Rob - I was disappointed. I remember the movie and I liked it better, I was put off by the long sections devoted to bantering
I liked Upstairs/Downstairs better. I did not like the excessive use of double negatives, like “he was not unperturbed.” Grade: B -
Ron – I like the book better than I thought I would when I got into his mind set.
I liked the descriptions of England, perhaps because I have traveled in England.
I enjoyed the documentation of a past era. The excesses in language were part of the atmosphere of the book, Grade: A
Bob – painted a believable picture of an individual, but I had a feeling that there was lots missing. Much was hinted at that should be in there but is not. Within the walls of the novel he established, he did a good job. Grade: A –
Keith – lack of concision. I can reduce the entire book to two words, “garrulously gassy” with lots of loquaciousness stilted language. I did not enjoy the butler talk. Specialized. If you can speak until you die, this is an example.
Lots of words, not much content. Overly wordy, unlike poetry Grade: B –
Robert S – I found it hard to engage with because it was so slow moving.
Also, Steven’s personality was a bit off putting.
I found it an excellent explication of the times and station of a between the Wars butler. Set in the 50’s but described the 20’s and 30’s as the big house culture was ending. Grade: B+
And from well outside of Moscombe:
Sorry I won't be able to attend the LTBC meeting you're hosting. We're not experiencing any social or cultural revolution, but we have been enjoying the music of the late 18th and early 19th century in Vienna and Salzburg as we roam around Mozart’s, Strauss’ and Beethoven’s old stomping grounds.
I can't say I enjoyed THE REMAINS OF THE DAY, but I am glad I read it. It gave me insight into a different era and culture for which I had little appreciation. I found the story sad if not downright tragic, which as a student of German literature I can relate to. I could also empathize with the situation the servant class found itself in at this turning point in British history; however, I had little compassion for Mr. Stevens particularly when it came to his relationship with his father at the end of the latter’s career and life. Additionally, his relationship with Miss Kenton often seemed unreal and his actions uncaring if not cruel. I did enjoy Ishiguro’s writing style and would like to read another of his novels in the hope of finding a more compassionate character. B
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
Comments by M.A. Blackledge, 30 May 2018
This was a fascinating book to me for several reasons.
Having seen the movie by the same name, my reading vision was full of Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. I will watch the movie again after reading the book, but the memory I came away with from the movie was all about unrequited love; my vision was of love offered and never accepted. Most depressing.
The book was so much more, so very much more. To begin with, the writing, the prose was captivating, beautifully drawing the reader into the well orchestrated view of the butler. It reminded me once again of how some of our most excellent English writing is by English-as-a-second-language authors: Nabokov, Conrad, and here Ishiguro. (Here I can envision Genoni reminding us that Nabokov claims his nanny taught him English prior to his learning Russian, but we all know Russian was his ‘true’ language.)
Then I loved how I was carried along, and it took me awhile before I realized we were in the presence of an unreliable narrator – something introduced to me by Nabokov, and done so cleverly here. We actually get ‘alternative memories’ as our protagonist Stevens admits, “now that I think about it, that’s not the way it happened – here is what happened.” This is first hinted when we see Stevens lies, he denies that he worked for Lord Darlington in the early days. It was a bit of a shock, but he explains it away. Twice he denies Lord Darlington in discussions with strangers, and thrice, like Peter disowning Jesus, before the tale is told. On the car trip as he allows the simple people of Moscombe to go on being awed by this great man with the fancy Ford who has had Winston Churchill to his house.
The Nazi sympathizers of the mid 1930s; the English countryside; the heroic image of his father, head down, kneeling before his serving cart (hopefully this is the image I will keep from the book); the people and the servants and the Lords – all beautifully woven together in such well crafted prose. And when at the very end, when Stevens actually admits his heart was breaking, my heart broke just a bit as we finally get a glimpse inside, that there are after all feelings within the costume, indeed within the English armor of a career pretender. Solid A.
- Lord Halifax
Edward Wood, 1st Earl of Halifax
REMAINS OF THE DAY
This was a beautiful book. While it initially seems to be slow moving and a bit too restrained, it develops into a novel with an extraordinary emotional content, with its story of of wasted lives, emotional dis-connectedness, lost love, and misplaced loyalty. The writing is consistently wonderful. Nothing to criticize here – a solid A.
I really enjoyed The Remains of the Day both times I read it. I liked it even more the second time.
This is a great book for people in our age group--many of us are looking back at our past and trying to enjoy the days remaining in our lives.
I found the characters in the book to be interesting, the book had a great plot, and it was extremely well written.
I watched the movie but liked the book much more than the movie.
I would give the book an A.