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The Remains of the Day

From Academic Kids

The Remains of the Day (1989) is the third novel by British-Japanese author Kazuo Ishiguro, which won for him the Booker prize that same year.

It tells the story of Stevens, an English butler who dedicates his life to the loyal service of Lord Darlington, only to be confronted in old age with the thought that he may not have made any choices in his life at all. As he sets out on a motoring trip and meets the long since retired housekeeper, Miss Kenton, he ponders the underlying feelings of love for her which were never realised or even fully stated, and he is left with a vague feeling of loss.

The novel is written in first person making use of narrative voice, so that much of the time Stevens does not directly say anything about his feelings for Miss Kenton, but rather leaves them implied.

However, it is not a pessimistic novel, but rather ends on a dignified note, with the butler trying to come to terms with how he has spent his life, and trying to make the best of what remains. Dignity and what constitutes it is one of the principal themes explored in this novel. Stevens and his disallusionment with Lord Darlington (and even his inability to face the truth of Lord Darlington's fall from grace) can be read to represent the citizens in post-colonial England and their relationship with the fading British Empire, as both Stevens and British citizens blindly trusted the rightness of the actions of their master.

The novel was made into a 1993 film by Merchant Ivory Productions.

A BBC Radio 4 adaptation in two hour-long episodes starring Ian McDiarmid was broadcast on August 8 and August 15, 2003.

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