Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Remains of the Day

'The Remains of the Day' is an award winning novel by Japanese author Kazuo Ishiguro. It was the very first novel in my life that I started reading. It was in the year 2001 when my elder brother came back home from IIT Guwahati with a B.Tech degree and this very novel from IIT library and asked me to read this novel. Since then it was on my to-read list but owing to my lack of interest in literature, I could never read it. Anyways, of late, I finally read this novel in August this year and since then was on my 'to-write' list and finally, I am writing this.
Being a highly recommended novel by somebody who has read over thousands of novels, there was a very high amount of expectations from this.
It is a story about an english butler of Darlington Hall, Stevens, who, being provoked by his lord Mr. Farraday, goes on a break on a motor trip of England and recalls his past, about his dignity towards duty, about his relationships with his father and amongst many things about his lost love that he cherishes to re-visit in this motor trip of his.
The whole thought of the motor trip came into a reality for Stevens after he recieved a letter from his ex-co-worker Miss Kenton about her married life. Stevens deduced from the letter that she was not very happy with her life of late and could well be thinking of coming back to Darlington Hall. Now, this is completely an interplay of his thoughts and reality. Those days he was facing problems with the shortage of staff at the Hall and was always recalling of his happy days there working with people like Miss Kenton. At such a time getting a letter from her was purely a coincidence but thinking about her coming back was out of sheer human emotions. When you think of something about someone, his or her every action seems like supporting your thoughts. This is what happened with Stevens. He was thinking of getting Miss Kenton back and when he got the letter he quite unknowingly deduced that she was not happy with her marriage and might be considering of coming back.
Well, in the beginning of this novel, I thought it to be a kind of a travelogue that will get us to different places and different expeiences and will tell us all about the things Stevens feels and experiences in his trip. As, slowly and steadily, the story unfolded it turned into many faces. Sometimes it was completely about his earlier lord, sometimes about the post-war politics in Europe, sometimes about the Darlington Hall itself, sometimes about his duty and butlery at the mansion, sometimes about his relationships with his father and sometimes about his clash of ideologies with Miss Kenton, a co-worker. With time it all unfolded into a recall of his lost love with Miss Kenton and the main motto of the car trip came out to be meeting her and taking her back to Darlington Hall. The swift progress of the story from one face to another, in itself, is something that imparts a greatness to the novel.
Apart from the way the story was written and the put of the real human emotions, there were several other things in the story that made it worth reading. One such thing was Stevens recalling many incidences of his life. They all, at the beginning, seemed useless but they very efficiently pointed out many of the aspects of Stevens' character like his loyalty, his punctuality, his responsibility and others.
All in all, I think after a few failed attempts with Chetan Bhagat, I finally got something in English literature that I will cherish long in my life. Once again, I would like to thank my brother for recommending this and I would also like to recommend it to one and all.......................


Kubla Khan said...


I just tried to be a bit intelligent, for a change! i saw his blog linked to yours, i read a few of your posts, you mentioned a quote from plath, saying my brother etc etc, i know he is from Patna, he has told me that, so there. i assure you, i am not a clairvoyant or insane, even though i have such a strange name. did you tell him about my message?
it is good to know that he is well. in the blogging world, nobody bothers when you disappear, bit i was wondering whether returning to native soil had eased his angst?
i understand you blog too but yours is a field that i dont know much about, bollywood etc.i am familiar with the generalities. regarding your latest post, this novel is not one of my favourites though i admit having read it years ago which does not help. i remember Hopkins in the role but he is such a dedicated actor in creating monotony that i dont like the movie either.

as a piece of free advice, you must ask yourself: why should i read so and so? why this and why not that? the strangle of certain books in'literature'circles is so strong, one cannot breathe properly.and the popular notion of great literature must be challenged constantly. why is Kafka or Proust great? why not so and so? and are they just great writers or great men too? and what is so great about them?

you have Alok's blog to guide your choice though he focussed on Autrian-german literature mostly. i don't know why, but being his brother, i say to you: read Robert Musil's The man without qualities. take a year over it. it is one of Alok's favourites too. i have stopped blogging but i may start again. something tells me, i must. but then i may not.

take care and thanks.

Aashu said...

Well thanks Kubla for the valuable advise and the recommendation........looking forward to that.
Well for me devoting that much of time on these things like 'literature' or 'films' as bhaiya (Alok) or you do is more of a wastage of time as far as the present status of my 'being' is concerned. I am busy with more important endeavors concerning my life and its 'security' and hence, though its sad, for me presently its hard to devote time to these otherwise important things.
Sometimes, when I get much time, I think of these things and then a few of times get something to read or watch.
I am still in the preliminary stage in literature and hence tend to start with something that is simple to read and understand and then look to develop the hobby of doing these things and may be then would be able to take things more seriously.
About this very novel, it was, as I think, amongst the earlier novels that Alok read and he liked it very much at that point of time. According to him, it was simple had nothing much to infer and deduct or analyse from this and hence would help me to develop a (an all important one) SENSE of literature in me.
Well, thanks again for coming here and leaving your valuable comment!!!
and pl let me admit this, I am a big fan your poems!!!!HEHEHE :)