Friday, June 8, 2007
The Remains of the Day
"The Remains of the Day" by Kazuo Ishiguro
1989 Booker Prize
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.
Mr. Stevens has been the perfect butler for 4 decades. He believes he serves humanity by serving a "great" English gentleman. But at the end of WWII his world is changing. After 35 years serving Lord Darlington, the estate has been bought by an American. Mr. Farraday foots the bill for Mr. Stevens to take a road trip. Mr. Stevens plans to look up the housekeeper who left service to get married 20 years ago. On this trip Mr. Stevens reflects back on his life.
Hindsight is 20/20. Mr. Stevens begins to realize his employer may not have been the "great" man he saw as the events of WWII were unfolding.
Mr. Stevens is a fascinating character. Over his career his determination to be a great butler has molded his character to the point where that is all he is. His dedication to duty has prevented him from seeing what his employer was doing, pursuing a woman or even exploring life outside the estate gates. And he never developed the ability to communicate on a purely personal level.
I loved this book. It's a new entry on my list of all-time favorites.