Remains of the Day & Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro

Kazuo Ishiguro is a Japanese born British novelist, who has written beautiful and at the same time quite gruesome books. Not gruesome in the sense that you experience horrible things like bloodshed, but the theme of the book is quite unacceptable.220px-KazuoIshiguro_TheRemainsOfTheDay

The first book of this author I read was The Remains of the Day (1989), the fascinating and touching story told by the
butler, Stevens. It’s a classic tale, about his running as a head butler of the household of Lord Darlington in the years before World War II. In the manor house history is written, when secret political meetings are being held here. It is also a tale of Stevens’ complex personality, his struggle to accept the things he has done in life and his inability to show his emotions. When Miss Kenton enters the manor as head housekeeper she brings warmth and feelings to the place, emotions that Stevens finds very difficult to display or experience, for that matter. Theirs is a lovestory, but will they ever admit it to themselves, let alone to the other?

220px-Never_Let_Me_GoIn 2006 Kazuo Ishiguro wrote a totally different novel: Never Let Me Go. It tells a future tale of a time in which children are born and being raised for the sole purpose of serving as ‘spare parts’ to others. Their lives will never be long, they have to start donating at around 16, 18 years old and will die soon after their third or fourth operation, or donation as it is called in the book. The book follows three donors, Ruth, Tommy and Kathy, while they are struggling with their destined fate and trying to make sense of their lives. As heartbreaking as it is, yet it is a fascinating read and you have to keep on reading, because you desperately want to know if at least they will survive for many years.

Both the books are also adapted for the big screen: Never Let Me Go (2010), with Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield, shows the love triangle Kathy, Ruth and Tommy are in and their struggle to accept their fate. The colouring of the film is somehow subdued, what adds to the feeling of despair not only the children have, but also you as the watcher. When seen on screen, somehow the words and theme of the book are enlarged and you feel yourself drawn into this futuristic world, where people are being born to provide ‘spare parts’ for others. That’s the gruesome part.

The 1993 film Remains of the Day on the other hand, is a wonderful touching and dramatic film, starring Anthony Hopkins as Stevens and Emma Thompson as Miss Kenton. You get to know the characters and love them, with all their shortcomings that make them more humane and more touching. Whereas the film Never Let Me Go was hard to watch in the sense that the theme is so horrible the film Remains of the Day left me with such a great feeling. This is such a wonderful film, you come to know the man behind the butler-mask, so to say, and his complex relationship with miss Kenton, head of the household. It is also a beautiful and touching lovestory and a stunning timepiece of England in those years and I can recommend this to anyone!


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