Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Remains of the Day

Last week just as I was starting this book CJ posted on Ishiguro's book Never Let Me Go . I wondered whether I would have more to say than CJ. Well I'm a bit at a loss for words on this one. Did I enjoy it? Not really. Did it have a satisfactory ending? Not really. Did I learn something from it? Not really. Did I understand what Ishiguro was attempting to achieve? Not really. In fact it was a bit of a not really book altogether.

I started off enjoying the story, briefly, because I thought I had an idea where it was going. Wrong. The narrator of the story has striven (at the time of the narration) to be called a 'great' butler and is a self-satisfied, emotionless and, I thought, very unfeeling, uncaring and unpleasant person. I was sure, however, that Ishiguro did not intend him to be. Or did he? Now I'm not really sure.

One of the things about posting views on a book is that it does make one think back to what one has read. I'm sure that Ishiguro was trying to get far more issues across to his readers than I have managed to assimilate. But as I review the pages I fail to see those issues. The last pages talk of the evening being the best part of the working day (actually and metaphorically) hence making the best of the remains of the day. But if that is the message then........

I would add that the narration prose is wonderfully evocative of how one might expect a butler in a great house to communicate in the earlier and middle part of the twentieth century. How does anyone who has not lived through that era - in fact was not born in this Country - do that? But then the last four words of the book contain a split infinitive! Oh dear.

Would I rush to read another of his books (which I have on the shelf)? Not really.

1 comment:

  1. I think your characterization of Mr. Stevens the butler is indeed what Ishiguro was trying to convey. In some ways his professional life dictates his behavior upstairs as well as downstairs.

    Your comment about a split infinitive reminds me of an episode of the great 1970s television series Upstairs Downstairs. In that show, the butler Hudson takes the informal education of his staff very seriously. In the episode to which I refer, Hudson replies to one of the servants who has just made a questioning observation by saying "You are quite right to note that the Captain split an infinitive over luncheon."