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The novel's narrator, Stevens, is a perfect English butler who tries to give his narrow existence form and meaning through the self-effacing, almost mystical practice of his profession. In a career that spans the second World War, Stevens is oblivious of the real life that goes on around him -- oblivious, for instance, of the fact that his aristocrat employer is a Nazi sympathizer. Still, there are even larger matters at stake in this heartbreaking, pitch-perfect novel -- namely, Stevens' own ability to allow some bit of life-affirming love into his tightly repressed existence. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Greeted with high praise in England, where it seems certain to be shortlisted for the Booker Prize, Ishiguro's third novel (after An Artist of the Floating World ) is a tour de force-- both a compelling psychological study and a portrait of a vanished social order. Stevens, an elderly butler who has spent 30 years in the service of Lord Darlington, ruminates on the past and inadvertently slackens his rigid grip on his emotions to confront the central issues of his life. Glacially reserved, snobbish and humorless, Stevens has devoted his life to his concept of duty and responsibility, hoping to reach the pinnacle of his profession through totally selfless dedication and a ruthless suppression of sentiment. Having made a virtue of stoic dignity, he is proud of his impassive response to his father's death and his "correct" behavior with the spunky former housekeeper, Miss Kenton. Ishiguro builds Stevens's character with precisely controlled details, creating irony as the butler unwittingly reveals his pathetic self-deception. In the poignant denouement, Stevens belatedly realizes that he has wasted his life in blind service to a foolish man and that he has never discovered "the key to human warmth." While it is not likely to provoke the same shocks of recognition as it did in Britain, this insightful, often humorous and moving novel should significantly enhance Ishiguro's reputation here.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Wonderful book. Subtle, funny, poignant. A portrait of a man so emotionally repressed that he doesn't even know he has emotions and can't sense it in others. Read morePublished 2 months ago by joan galloway
I don't know whether I want to strangle Mr. Stevens or sit down with him and commiserate over the sad turns that life can take. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Daffy Bibliophile
Book is, in the first person, a story of an English butler, his experiences and his total dedication to his work. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Keith Weaver
It is certainly one of the greatest contemporary books in English for a very simple reason. Namely, if we forget about the exact time frame or locus and socio-cultural conditions... Read morePublished on Feb. 26 2013 by Boyko Ovcharov
This was the best contemporary book that I read as part of my English degree at university. It is about duty, human relations, love, and fear of our emotions.Published on July 17 2010 by Anardana
What to add - so many 5* reviews, and I couldn't agree more.
Ishiguro's prose is brilliant, and his characterization sublime. Read more
This book is not the one that you think it is. You are bying a Penguins Reader: Kazuo Ishiguro's marvelous novel is «retold by Chris Rice». Read morePublished on Oct. 23 2005 by Gérald Allard