The Novel Remains: “The Remains of the Day”

In Kazuo Ishiguro‘s great novel, The Remains of the Day (1988), not much goes on between the butler Stevens and the housekeeper Miss Kenton. They are friends, yes, but there is still a breakdown here in social interaction, human connectedness, which coincides with a larger moral breakdown in the characters’ milieu. Stevens’s employer, Lord Darlington, the rich host of gatherings for world officials, is deceived enough by pre-World War II Germans to become anti-Semitic and anti-democracy. He wants two Jewish staff members to be dismissed from their jobs. Miss Kenton is appalled, Stevens is not—for he is perfectly loyal to Lord Darlington.

The subject, the question, of “dignity” in the novel is no longer very interesting, though I think the subject of loyalty still is. Fresher, even so, is the theme of the passage of time which produces for both an individual and a nation “the remains of the day” (before the day dies). Be careful of a coming remains of the day—a message I give to America as it too displays Leftist anti-Semitism (ignored by the media) and other unfortunate things.

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