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The Remains of the Day

4.1  ·  Rating Details ·  115,843 Ratings  ·  6,977 Reviews
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 meditati ...more
Paperback, 258 pages
Published 2005 by Faber & Faber (first published 1989)
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Janet Landman I found it significant in a number of ways. Most obviously, it showed Stevens suffering from the British class distinctions. We hadn't seen that…moreI found it significant in a number of ways. Most obviously, it showed Stevens suffering from the British class distinctions. We hadn't seen that before, because he seemed to take such pride in trying to be the best possible member of his "profession." The Dr's question showed that he saw through what the villagers appeared not to--that Stevens wasn't of the aristocratic class. And although Stevens says he was made extremely uncomfortable by the villagers' misunderstanding his social status, I think he secretly enjoyed being thought a very important person--someone who had met Churchill and Eden and Halifax. It's no accident that after that evening's festivities, he recalls that horrible incident when Darlington and his cronies made a mockery of Stevens to his face. Second, it shows Stevens being exposed to 2 new perspectives on "dignity," neither of which entails the extreme emotional constriction central to Stevens's view of it. I think these new perspectives on dignity might have made a bit of a dent in Stevens's, which is going to be very important in the end. Third, Harry Smith's view of dignity, in conjunction with these experiences and memories regarding class, contributes, I think, to Stevens's finally confronting the fact that Lord Darlington's life and work were "at best, a sad waste." Janet(less)
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Esteban del Mal
Apr 07, 2010 Esteban del Mal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel, fiction
Kazuo Ishiguro writes the anti-haiku: instead of consciousness awakening to the immediacy of the immutable natural world, subjective memory is peeled back layer by layer to expose consciousness; instead of the joyous eruption of awareness, the tension of the gradual decompression of ignorance; instead of a humility that acknowledges the unknowable on its own terms, rambling that tries to fill the chasm of existential angst that has suddenly opened up like a sinkhole in being. Yet what his writin ...more
Siria
This is one of the most beautifully mannered, subtle books I've read in a long, long time. Ishiguro's command of prose is perfect; there was never a point where I felt that this book wasn't written by a consummate English gentleman's gentleman. Remains of the Day is also one of the best examples of first person POV that I've read. Stevens' voice is always clear and distinct, and always used to frame the narrative in such a way that the reader is able to see things and guess things which the prot ...more
Kecia
Aug 21, 2007 Kecia rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: readers who appreciate subtly
It's not what happens in this story that's important, it's what doesn't happen. It's not what is said, but what is not said.

I almost feel like Stevens in a real person and not a fictional character. He may well be the most tragic figure I've had the honor to meet/read. He tried so hard to do what he thought to be the right thing and in the end it all turned out to the wrong thing...I cried for at least a half hour after I finished the final page. It was a bittersweet moment when he admitted to h
...more
Nataliya
Jan 29, 2015 Nataliya rated it it was amazing
“The evening's the best part of the day. You've done your day's work. Now you can put your feet up and enjoy it.”
I suppose what one really needs at the end of it all, in the twilight of life, is to know that it was worth something, that there was some meaning, some purpose to it. Because if it was all in vain, why even try?

With The Remains of the Day Kazuo Ishiguro created a masterpiece, mesmerizing, evocative, subtle, elegant and perfectly crafted, with precise mastery of language, setting an
...more
Bookworm Sean
This was phenomenal. Ishiguro has such a developed way of exploring consciousness, the power of repression, self-serving denial and the destructive consequences of regret.

The narrator of this is a stiffly rigid and rather dry old butler. He has given everything over to his profession; he has left little room for his own personality to develop. The character(s) he emulates are a mere representation of his employer’s needs; he behaves in a way that he thinks they wish him to: he creates a persona
...more
Samadrita
When I had merely read about 30 or so pages of this book, I must confess I was debating whether or not to continue with it, given the unbearably slow pacing of the plot.
And then when I had finally reached the end, I couldn't help but feel immensely thankful to my own better judgement against giving it up. Since by that time I had been reduced to a pathetic, blubbering mass of emotions and tears, teetering on the verge of a major breakdown and marvelling at the writer's remarkable achievement at
...more
Maggie Stiefvater
this book is full of butlers
Louize
Jun 13, 2012 Louize rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Louize by: The Filipino Group
Shelves: tfg-f2f
THE REMAINS OF THE DAY – AN OPEN LETTER



Dearest James,

I know that introduction is a must, polite even, but on this one I do suggest that we skip that. It is you who matters, and no one else.

Foremost, how was the end of your motoring trip? Was it pleasant on your return? I do hope that none of the inconveniences you encountered on leaving crossed your path on the way home. It was a good thing Mr. Farraday suggested this motoring trip. You’ve been cooked up in that hall for a very long time. Differ
...more
Will Byrnes
Nov 01, 2008 Will Byrnes rated it it was amazing
This is a compelling portrait of the perfect English butler and of his fading, insular world in postwar England – At the end of his three decades of service in Darlington Hall, Stevens embarks on a vacation, driving in the country, hoping to reconnect with a woman with whom he had once worked, and with whom he felt some stifled form of intimacy.

description
Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins in the film - from The Guardian

Over these few days, he looks back over his career to reassure himself that he has serv
...more
Paul Bryant
Sep 30, 2007 Paul Bryant rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
As far as I could see this was like a maid and a butler in one of those British mansions that lords live in and they didn't shag each other. End of. This for more than 200 pages. It's like I could organise more interesting snail races. Even if the snails fell asleep it would be more eventful than this book. I would say that this book is supposed to be good and they made a film but this is a very good example of why literature is being replaced by computer games. You will not see a computer game ...more
Nandakishore Varma
This is not a review of the book as such - but a blog post I wrote in March 2015, when I suddenly felt the onset of age. I feel it can be an appropriate tribute to this wonderful novel.

This year in August, I will turn fifty-two.

For the past few years, thoughts of my eventual demise have been persistent at the back of my brain. It is not actually fear of death – it is more like the certainty of an unpleasant fact of life which cannot be avoided; something you would like to put off as much as po
...more
Diane
Sep 11, 2013 Diane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Diane by: Samadrita
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Joe Valdez
Feb 15, 2017 Joe Valdez rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-general
Love is in the air--or maybe anxiously repressed--in February and my romantic literature jag continues with The Remains of the Day, the 1989 novel by Kazuo Ishiguro and winner of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction the same year. This is a magnificent novel, artfully focused in its portraiture of William Stevens, butler of the fictitious Darlington Hall near Oxford. On one level, Stevens' first person account of his service is rendered in beautifully crafted language, full of one Englishman's stoic ...more
Nishat
“You see, I trusted. I trusted in his lorship's wisdom. All those years I served him, I trusted I was doing something worthwhile. I can't even say I made my own mistakes. Really - one has to ask oneself - what dignity is there in that?”

Mr James Stevens, an English butler setting out towards the west country, is the most wondrous creature, one could possibly have an encounter with. His loyalty to the perished, service to the prominent and sense of dignity that elevates others' as well, command
...more
Glenn Sumi
An exquisite novel featuring one of the most fascinating unreliable narrators in all of fiction.

In post-war England, Stevens, an aging, old-school English butler who’s worked for decades at Darlington Hall, plans a car trip to visit the estate’s former housekeeper, Miss Kenton, in the west country. During the journey, he reflects on his long career, and we get a good sense of his life – inextricably linked to his long-time employer, Lord Darlington – and that of his country.

Thanks to Downton Abb
...more
Perry
Dec 21, 2015 Perry rated it it was amazing
Shelves: amados-libros
...a shadow hanging over me. Oh, yesterday came suddenly.
Yesterday, Lennon-McCartney, 1965

Yesterday suddenly would be an excellent description for a scene in this novel that I'd put in my top 5 most heartbreaking moments in all literature.

Ishiguro's novel whisks the human memory - its capacity, reliability, fallibility and combustibility. As the story moves forward, he drops clues to the murkiness of the manservant narrator Stevens' recollections of decades in service at Darlington Hall and his
...more
Kelly
Aug 05, 2007 Kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who love character studies and don't mind a slow pace
This is a work of high skill. Done in the first person, it conveys exactly the tone, workings, and errors of the mind that it lives in. Though it's clear that the narrator is unreliable- and he calls himself out on that a few times by what the reader may be thinking of his train of thought- he uses that unreliable format to his advantage. It is used to make Mr. Stevens more sympathetic and relatable to the reader, who otherwise might have some difficulty finding much in common with a postwar but ...more
Sanjay Gautam
Apr 26, 2016 Sanjay Gautam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sanjay by: Nandakishore Varma
Phenomenal!

I'm at a loss for words, but I know this would be going to my all time favourites. A masterpiece.
Kevin Ansbro
Aug 13, 2016 Kevin Ansbro rated it really liked it
Recommended to Kevin by: Glenn Sumi

"When work is a pleasure, life is a joy! When work is a duty, life is slavery."
-Maxim Gorky.


I bought this novel in tandem with Never Let Me Go, a book that proved to be so tedious I abandoned it, preferring to watch paint dry instead.
Nevertheless, I was prepared to give Ishiguro the benefit of the doubt, wipe the slate clean and start afresh.

The story is told from the POV of Mr Stevens, English butler to Mr Farraday, his nouveau riche American master: I invite you to imagine Mr Stevens to be a
...more
Agnieszka
Jun 22, 2009 Agnieszka rated it it was amazing
In the middle of the journey of our life I found myself within a dark woods where the straight way was lost.

Does that ring any bells with you? There are such moments in our life when with rare lucidity we realize that our life is getting out of control, that we get sidetracked into minor issues, when we think if I had a second chance …. But one can’t turn the clock and what’s done is done.

Ishiguro with elegance depicts subtle and nuanced portrait of Stevens, an aging butler at English mansion
...more
Sue
I realize that there are thousands of reviews of this book on this site alone and it is unlikely that I can offer anything truly new. However I do want to review what, for me, is the high point of this novel...the amazing consistency of tone that Ishiguro maintains from beginning to the very last line. Stevens is perhaps the most internally consistent character I have ever read, which does not mean that he does not appear damaged on some level.

Without the author presenting any neutral back stor
...more
Fabian
Jul 03, 2012 Fabian rated it it was amazing
Mood, atmosphere, character. Encapsulation of the zeitgeist, social commentary, "The Remains of the Day" delves into the dark side of humanity. So much is held within the pages of this marvelous book, the account of one of the last butlers to work at a large manor in England. What is dignity? seems to be the major thread that unites all of his different experiences of becoming a largely marginalized person, of becoming someone with a worth different from others. The love story is heart wrenching ...more
Robin
Dec 19, 2016 Robin rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Robin by: Perry
A story of dignity, duty and missed opportunities. A portrait of a man's understated, confined, repressed heartbreak.

Stevens is an old fashioned English butler who takes his role so very seriously that the life of his master (Lord Darlington) comes first and foremost, and his own life passes by at a distant and distinct second. At the twilight of his career, he takes an unprecedented trip through the countryside to visit with Miss Kenton, the former housekeeper at Darlington Hall. During his jou
...more
Phrynne
Oct 22, 2016 Phrynne rated it liked it
Hmm. Literary classic, very well regarded author, well rated by lots of people - I should really like this one. Sadly I only found it okay.
What I didn't like:
* too much inner dialogue. I was well aware that the main character was an unreliable narrator and that we have to read between his lines to get to the truth but there were still too many lines!
* I was never emotionally involved. I have read reviews where people are devastated by the ending. I just said "oh well" and put the book down.
What
...more
Otis Chandler
May 14, 2013 Otis Chandler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Otis by: Jeff Bezos
A wonderful, beautifully written, poignant, subtle, and brilliant novel.

This is the story of an English butler of one the great houses, whose self value comes from his duty and his dignity, and who questions his values and his life in the end. It is ultimately a story of regret. It is a story that makes you want to live your life and dedicate yourself to things that you won't regret when you look back. One of the best ways of thinking about regret I've ever come across is from Jeff Bezos in his
...more
Shayantani Das
Mar 31, 2012 Shayantani Das rated it it was amazing
I did not expect that anything written by Kazuo Ishiguro could ever surprise me again; especially after the profoundNever Let Me Go . Yet, this book caught me off guard and has by far been the best book I have read this year. It is indeed a great feat when an author can make an 18 year old relate to an extremely serious British butler reminiscing about his life.

Steven, the aforementioned butler is such a mercilessly precise man, in his pursuit of “dignity”, he denies his innermost feeling and t
...more
Margitte
Dignity and loyalty take no prisoners. Banter can be institutionalized if required; and love....now why in the world did it come up in this discussion!?

I never memorize anything, it just stuck itself voluntarily somewhere in memory, but I do recall some highlights in this journey through words and wisdoms, spread out over the thousands of hours I have spent reading in my life. Somewhere along the line, Charles Dickens, in A Tale of Two Cities, uttered the best introduction to any book I have e
...more
Apatt
Jun 26, 2014 Apatt rated it it was amazing
Kazuo Ishiguro, there seems to be a dichotomy between the author's name and the subject matter of the novel. I did not know anything about Mr. Ishiguro before reading this book (I am not as well read as I pretend to be) but I have heard of the 1993 award winning film adaptation of The Remains of the Day starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. It seems like a quintessentially British story and when I looked up some info about the source material I was intrigued by the author’s name. Anyway, W ...more
Kinga
Has there ever been a more perversely English book?

From the paragraphs meandering around and telling the reader what in the narrator’s humble opinion makes a great butler to the descriptions of the unobtrusive beauty of the English countryside it somehow manages to be the saddest love story ever told. Also as my friend Lewis says: “it’s the best example of dramatic irony in contemporary literature.”

The narrator, Mr Stevens, is the ultimate tragic hero. He is so repressed that he doesn’t even kno
...more
Helen
Oct 13, 2012 Helen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-ll
If I could give this book ten stars, I would. I saw the movie years ago, so I already knew the bones of the plot. What the movie couldn't reproduce, however, was the device of the unreliable narrator.

And what a device it is. You don’t realize, as you’re reading a book, just how much you depend on your narrator. As your guide through the story, you automatically assume that he is telling you the truth.

It is 1956, and Stevens, butler extraordinaire at Darlington Hall, finds he needs to add someo
...more
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Kazuo Ishiguro (カズオ・イシグロ or 石黒 一雄) is a British novelist of Japanese origin. His family moved to England in 1960. Ishiguro obtained his Bachelor's degree from the University of Kent in 1978 and his Master's from the University of East Anglia's creative writing course in 1980. He became a British citizen in 1982. He now lives in London.

His first novel, A Pale View of Hills, won the 1982 Winifred Ho
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“What is the point of worrying oneself too much about what one could or could not have done to control the course one's life took? Surely it is enough that the likes of you and I at least try to make our small contribution count for something true and worthy. And if some of us are prepared to sacrifice much in life in order to pursue such aspirations, surely that in itself, whatever the outcome, cause for pride and contentment.” 251 likes
“Indeed — why should I not admit it? — in that moment, my heart was breaking.” 243 likes
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