The Remains of the Day

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{theory, work, human}
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{rate, high, increase}
{group, member, jewish}
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{food, make, wine}
{woman, child, man}
{math, energy, light}

The Remains of the Day (1989) is Japanese-English author Kazuo Ishiguro's third published novel. One of the most highly-regarded post-war British novels, the work was awarded the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 1989. A film adaptation of the novel, made in 1993 and starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson, was nominated for eight Academy Awards.

As in Ishiguro's two previous novels, the story is told from a first person point of view. The narrator Stevens, a butler, recalls his life in the form of what appears to be a long letter to an unknown person – possibly another butler – while the action progresses through the present. Much of the novel is concerned with Stevens's professional and, above all, personal relationship with a former colleague, the housekeeper Miss Kenton. In contrast to Ishiguro's earlier work, The Remains of the Day is neither based in Japan nor told from the point of view of a Japanese person, although his first novel, A Pale View of Hills, had taken the form of the first-person recollections of her past life in Japan of an elderly Japanese woman now living in Britain.


Plot summary

The Remains of the Day tells the story of Stevens, an English butler who has dedicated his life to the loyal service of one Lord Darlington (mentioned in increasing detail in flashbacks). The novel begins with Stevens receiving a letter from a former colleague, Miss Kenton, describing her married life, which he believes hints at an unhappy marriage. The receipt of the letter coincides with Stevens having the opportunity to revisit this once-cherished relationship, if only under the guise of investigating the possibility of re-employment. Stevens's new employer, a wealthy American named Mr Farraday, encourages Stevens to borrow his car to take a well-earned break, a "motoring trip". As he sets out, Stevens has the opportunity to reflect on his immutable loyalty to Lord Darlington, on the meaning of the term "dignity", and even on his relationship with his own late father. Ultimately Stevens is forced to ponder the true nature of his relationship with Miss Kenton. As the book progresses, increasing evidence of Miss Kenton's one-time love for Stevens, and of his for her, is revealed.

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