8 – Class and honor
This is my second book from Mr. Ishguro. The first one was Never Let Me Go. That was a book I couldn´t quite make out what it wanted to say even after more than half way through the pages. Then it hit me hard. Gaping. Until today, it still left a profound impact on my understanding of the purpose of life.
The Remain of the Day walked down the familiar path. So many plots were unfolding at the same time, I was not quite sure which one to follow. Similar to Never Let Me Go, the protagonist, Steven, took great pride in what he did. He saw his purpose in life with nothing but full dedication. At the start, I thought it was about his travel to the much-prized English country side. Then there were sub plots about his romantic (or in Steven’s view – a purely professional) relationship with Miss Kenton, various accounts of his dedication as a butler and Mr. Darlington’s efforts on world affairs. Although Miss Kenton was mentioned early on the story, albeit unduly professionally, and it seemed meeting Miss Kenton was one main motive for Steven to travel at all, the much-anticipated meeting was not until the last few pages. Throughout Steven insisted it was purely professional, but it was evident that the loss of Miss Kenton had a lasting, regretful impact on him. Miss Kenton, after more than a decade finally admitted her admiration towards Steven and the longing of a life that they would have had together. It took many years for her to grow to love her current husband:
“….in that moment, my heart was breaking…”
Any pretense of indifference was torn apart, after all he also longed a different life he never had.
Steven was in a world where pride was not measure by how much money one makes. It was all about dignity. When Lewis lamented the amateurism towards German diplomacy, Lord Darlington rebutted with honor. Steven felt an indisputable purpose in what he did as a butler. Nothing could have stood in its way: not his dying father, much less the infatuation towards Miss Kenton.
In under 300 pages, Mr. Ishiguro touched many topics. Steven’s devotion was undoutedly the center piece. He was such a purist which must be a rare breed in real life if it does exist at all. Lord Darlington’s rebuttal stood out as a witty rhetoric; however, Ishiguro’s books are not renowned for witty liners and funny sarcasm. Mr. Ishiguro has a distinct literature style that felt calm, smooth and artfully composed. He has also become the newest member of the prestigious Nobel literature laureates. More the reason for a Sunday afternoon reading!