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The Remains of the Day

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  200,243 ratings  ·  14,131 reviews
Librarian's note: See alternate cover edition of ISBN 0571225381 here.

In the summer of 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
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 befor…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)
Michiel I asked myself this same question during reading. Although Miss Kenton was definitely one to appreciate the professionalism and quality with which Mr.…moreI asked myself this same question during reading. Although Miss Kenton was definitely one to appreciate the professionalism and quality with which Mr. Stevens conducted his work, that in itself does not seem enough to fall in love with him. Especially considering the inconsiderate and sometimes unpleasant way in which Mr. Stevens treated her.

However, I also believe that Mr. Stevens does not give a good portrayal of their relationship. Mr. Stevens' recollections mainly focus on their disagreements and how they grew apart. We are never shown the amiable nature or pleasant convsersation the two may have had during their daily parlor meetings. I am convinced that Miss Kenton and Mr. Stevens actually shared some connection during these meetings (even though Mr. Stevens will undoubtedly have remained very professional during them). Miss Kenton could probably see the man behind the butler in those instances, allowing her to fall in love with him. However, since Mr. Stevens does not consider such social interaction between them to bear any significance or relevance, he does not tell us anything about it.

Also, Mr. Stevens is a reasonable accurate narrator when it comes to describing what words were being said during a conversation. However, he is rather bad at conveying what emotions he himself showed during such conversations. There are a few instances in the novel where the people around Mr. Stevens explicitly comment on the emotional way in which he is behaving (such as the tears in his eyes when his father died or the way he storms through the halls when he hears Miss Kenton is leaving), while Mr. Stevens himself does not mention a word of such emotions. This leads me to believe that his attitude towards Miss Kenton would often be a lot more positive than what we can construe from his words.

Not until the very last chapter, we know Mr. Stevens actually cares for or even has feelings for Miss Kenton. When Miss Kenton mentions that she could imagine a different outcome with them being together, he shortly mentions to us readers that his heart broke at that instance.

So to come back to your question. I don't exactly know why Miss Kenton fell in love with Mr. Stevens. But I also believe that Mr. Stevens would not describe any such traits or any chemistry between the two in his memoirs, considering such information irrelevant.(less)
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Esteban del Mal
Apr 07, 2010 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
Aug 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Every day, for the past week I've encouraged myself to start writing this review. It feelt impossible to find my words to discuss such a literary masterpiece. Who gives me the right to even try?
After staring blankly at the screen for some time, I finally remembered a beautiful passage that can perfectly describe what I felt about this novel. So, I will let the author describe his work. Although the quote depicts the magnificent English countryside It can be applied to the novel as well.

“What i
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
Aug 21, 2007 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
Sean Barrs
So Ishiguro has won the noble prize for literature 2017. This quote from the yeasterday's guardian article says it all to me:

The British author Kazuo Ishiguro said he was both honoured and “taken completely by surprise” after he was named this year’s winner of the 2017 Nobel prize in literature, even initially wondering if the announcement was a case of “fake news”.


“Part of me feels like an imposter and part of me feels bad that I’ve got this before other living writers,” said Ishiguro. “Ha
Kevin Ansbro
Aug 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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 so tedious that I abandoned it, preferring to watch paint dry.
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 an amalgam of Wodeho
Ahmad Sharabiani
190. The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro

The "Remains of the Day", is a 1989 novel by Nobel Prize-winning British writer, Kazuo Ishiguro.

In the summer of 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 unrealized love between the butler and his housekeeper.

نخستین خوانش: روز بیست و سوم ژوئن سال 1997
Jan 29, 2015 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
Firmly in My Top 3 Ever. Overwhelmingly Profound.

Regret came shivering through my veins,
And bound my tongue in iron chains;
My soul in prison seem'd to be,
And ever must if torn from thee.

"The Recall to Affection," Susanna Blamire

Oh, yesterday came suddenly.
"Yesterday," Lennon-McCartney, 1965

It is nearly impossible to describe this novel without alluding to what I believe is the most heartbreaking scene in all literature.

Ishiguro's novel whisks the human memory - its capacity, reliability, fallib
Beautiful, beautiful book, wonderful writing, great story. I am now officially a fan of Ishiguro, a book so different from Never let me go, which was also an incredible story to me. This story however is very different but equally high quality, which in my opinion indicates the quality of the writer, able to put down totally different stories, both intriguing in their own way. It is beautiful in language, heartbreaking in storyline, gives a view of life in England in between wars and how politic ...more
Dec 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5/5 Stars

Kazuo Ishiguro just won the Nobel Prize for Literature this year and this book supports that achievement. The Remains of the Day is a wonderful book to close my reading year in 2017.

This book was first published in 1989 and since then, there have been countless professional reviews on it that everything I said here—although they are my honest opinion—would most likely be just something similar to any of those reviews. That’s why I’ll keep this brief; The Remains of the Day is a thorou
Jul 03, 2012 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 wrenchi ...more
Dec 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
The book „Was vom Tag übrig blieb” written by kazuo Ishiguro is about the duties and the value system of the butlers profession in a past era. This roman is written in a beautiful language which shows the perspectives of butler´s responsibilities in former times. It includes themes like European history, politics and social structures in the 20th century, self-deception, lost love and the human dignity.
Kazuo Ishiguro gives the protagonist Stevens a virtuously formulated narrative voice which rep
Paul Bryant
Sep 30, 2007 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
Oct 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
YES! YES!YES! The Nobel Prize totally deserved! So jubilant as one of my favourite Authors to whom I've been faithful for nearly 20 years has been honoured with the Prize!
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
Sep 11, 2013 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.
Jan 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
You know, you get to the end of this book and it makes you wonder if there is such a thing as too perfect. Not only are all the i's dotted and all t's crossed, the dots have embroidered edges, and the crosses are tied in a bow. A follows B follows C, but there's a part of you that wishes that just once you could see Stevens really lose his cool, perhaps drop an f-bomb--it is probable that the fault lies entirely with me. It must, surely. Perfect, too perfect--no such thing. I've simply seen The ...more
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
Don't let your principles steal your judgment, your feelings, your life!

This novel - like all of Kazuo Ishiguro's work - has many quiet messages, and it can be read in many different ways. When I first read it, a long time ago, I thought it was a brilliant study of English customs and history before and during the Second World War, and I used to give it to friends and family as a reminder of how fascism can be supported and cultivated in an environment of duty and loyalty. During later reading
Michael Finocchiaro
Beautiful, heartbreaking book of understatement and about the price for following convention and one's sense of duty over the desires (expressed or not) of one's heart. I have not seen the movie yet, but I have heard it captured the subdued tone and deeper philosophical questions posed by Isihiguro's choices in narration and subjects.
Will Byrnes
Nov 01, 2008 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.

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
Jul 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Mr James Stevens, an English butler setting out towards the west country, is the most wonderful man, 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 of utmost awe and regards.

Mr Stevens, during a well earned motoring trip, here reflects upon several scattered events that forming a pattern, trace back to the past of his honorable service in House Darlington which stood formidably in the fa
Joe Valdez
Feb 15, 2017 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
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
Oct 22, 2016 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.
Jun 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Louize by: The Filipino Group
Shelves: tfg-f2f

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
Rebecca McNutt
Jun 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I feel like such a little kid, but out of nostalgia my favourite butler is still Muffy's dog butler from the animated cartoon Arthur:
I guess that's what happens when you grow up watching PBS Kids. :P

Set at a time in England's history where everything is rapidly changing, and following the life of the butler who witnesses it all, The Remains of the Day is a vivid and very impressive historical novel. I was honestly surprised by how good it was. It looked very short, almost novella-sized, but th
Matthew Quann
Sep 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: early 1900s, really good writing,
Dear Reader,

It is my hope that this missive finds you in good stead and lodgings befitting a person who has displayed nothing but the utmost professionalism throughout their career. I have, after a considerable period of deliberation, undertaken the not-insignificant task of recommending a novel to your noble personage. If you will permit me a brief tangent on the topic of the novel itself, I believe you will find yourself in the position to do nothing short of reading the pages in question.

It h
Em Lost In Books
"One can't be forever dwelling on what might have been. One should realize one has as good as most, perhaps better, and be grateful."
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Sir Kazuo Ishiguro (カズオ・イシグロ or 石黒 一雄), OBE, FRSA, FRSL is a British novelist of Japanese origin and Nobel Laureate in Literature (2017). 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.


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