Kazuo Ishiguro: The Remains Of The Day
You’ve got to enjoy yourself. 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. That’s how I look at it. Ask anybody, they’ll all tell you. The evening’s the best part of the day.
I’d long been meaning to read this novel, and finally picked up a copy late last year from a charity shop in Headingley, Leeds. As is often the case with the books I end up really liking, not very much happens. Stevens, an ageing butler takes a driving holiday through the countryside of southern England. Along the way he ponders his life and his work, slowly revealing aspects of himself that he’s hitherto kept hidden behind a rigid facade of austere professional comportment. You could be forgiven for thinking that this would not make for a compelling narrative, but it’s testament to the skill of the author that you are drawn deeper and deeper into Stevens’ world, one where a man is ultimately defined by his work and his commitment to it. There is a measured intensity to the book, an intensity sustained by the force of Stevens’ deeply suppressed passions, and it is only at the very end that there comes a release that I found unexpectedly moving. The book left a deep impression on me, one that hasn’t really faded, and I was secretly pleased that a painting I’d made three years earlier using the same title did, I feel, capture some element of what Ishiguro was trying to express: