Kazuo Ishiguro 2005. The Remains of the Day. London: Faber and Faber. 258 pp.
A deceptively simple story within which there is much going on, much wisdom. As with the fabulous The Buried Giant, Ishiguro takes great care to create a convincing voice. This one starts out as “Wodehouse without Wooster” before deepening into parallel tragedies. Various elements of the Great English Tradition - upper class Lord of the great house and his manservant - are found to be woefully inept and unsuited to both “modern” (=pre-World War 2) politics and also to personal relationships. The story is narrated in the first person by the butler, Mr Stevens, who is a wonderful creation being one who cultivates professional efficiency, dignity and duty before all else but is splendidly wooden and unaware of the personal feelings of those about him. There is an inevitability to the steady decline in the stories as Stevens narrates.
Greatly anticipate reading more Kazuo Ishiguro novels which in concept and masterly execution rate with Patrick White. Both authors with their very first pages leave no doubt that they know exactly what it is that will be achieved, and that they have complete and utter mastery of the language. Ishiguro has the additional benefit of conveying complexity with brevity. If Kazuo Ishiguro writes novels that are elegant jewels then Patrick White creates massively embelished great cathedrals. Both are at the pinacle of their art.