Ishiguro's Remains of the Day: The Empire Strikes Back

August 6, 2017 | Author: ace0101 | Category: Jeeves, The Tempest, Colonialism, Politics (General)
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By Meera Tamaya. A scholar paper on the book 'Remains of the Day.' A few years ago, at the height of the race r...


Ishiguro's Remains of the Day: The Empire Strikes Back MeeraTamaya

A few years ago, at the height of the race riots in England, there was a widely publicized picture of an Indian woman leading a protest march, carrying a placard which read, "We are here because you were there." The literary analogue to this phenomenon of the British colonial sins coming home to roost is the number of writers born outside England's shores, from the West Indies to India to Japan, now domiciled in England, who write with unblinking clarity about the empire and the final spasms of its delirium tremens. The best known of these writers are V. S. Naipaul and Salman Rushdie, and now we have Kazuo Ishiguro, born in Japan, raised and educated in England, who has become one of England's leading younger novelists.' Ishiguro is unique among post-colonial writers because unlike Rushdie, for example, who writes at such unwieldy length and with much obtrusive polemics about the consequences of history, Ishiguro uses that consummately economical and British literary formthe novel of manners-to deconstruct British society and its imperial history. Elliptically alluded to, never directly mentioned, historical events are the powerful absences which shape the characters and narratives of all three of Ishiguro's novels. The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, never referred to, echoes in the intricacies of the fragmented lives in A

Pale View of Hills and An Artistof the FloatingWorld.In his recentand

most acclaimed novel, The Remains of the Day, it is the dismantling of Britain's colonial empire, mentioned only as the date on which the narrative begins, which provides the determining historical context of the characters' attitudes and aspirations. The date is July 1956, when President Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal, thus heralding the end of Britain's long reign as the world's foremost colonial power. Not so coincidentally, on that particular day, the narrator/protagonist of the novel, Stevens, the quintessential English butler, sets out on a journey across England and, in the process, recovers the tragic truth of his past, a truth inextricably bound up with the history of his country. Even as England has to accommodate itself to the rise of America as an imperial power, Stevens, after having served Lord Darlington for 35 years, has to adjust himself to an American master, Mr. Farraday, who has bought Darlington Hall because he wanted "a genuine grand old English house" and "a genuine old fashioned English butler" (124) to go with it. As Stevens reminisces during his cross country trip, we learn more than Stevens is willing to reveal (either to himself or to the reader) about the tragedy of his misguided devotion to Lord Darlington. While critics have praised Ishiguro's masterful control of tone and narrative strategies which make this oblique, and therefore all the more shocking, discovery possible, they have also noted that Stevens' self-abnegation in the service of his master reverberates with larger implications about British politics, 45

culture and society.2 It is this aspect of the novel I wish to examine more closely, focussing in particular on the ways in which the dynamic between the upper and lower classes, exemplified by Lord Darlington and his butler, duplicates very precisely England's relationship to its colonies. It is my contention that Stevens' private tragedy is precipitated by what Albert Memmi in his seminal study The Colonizer and the Colonized terms the cruel "hoax"by which the colonizer or master ensures that the servant exists "only as a function of the needs of the colonizer, i.e., be transformed into a pure colonized" (86). The best known paradigm for this reciprocity between master/ servant, colonizer/colonized is the bond/bondage between Prospero and Caliban in The Tempest. As Mannoni, Fanon and others have convincingly argued, Shakespeare vividly dramatizes the specific steps by which Prospero, a typical colonizer, proceeds to establish mastery over a foreign territory.3Like most colonizers, Prospero manages to achieve in an alien country what he has failed to achieve in his own: control. He has lost his own duchy to a scheming brother because, absorbed in the study of magic, he has neglected "worldly ends." England has a long tradition of sending its social misfits abroad to seek their future. Customarily, younger sons, illegitimate sons and others who could not succeed in their own Hobbesian society forged a new identity elsewhere. At the extreme end of this spectrum, convicts from over-crowded prisons were also shipped abroad: Australia for example, became a haven for British convicts. Having failed in his ducal responsibilities, Prospero is cast adrift on a boat by a villainous brother, but manages to land on a remote island where he is hospitably received by Caliban, a friendly native. Soon, however, the roles are reversed: the guest establishes hegemony over the island and turns the host into a servant. Caliban details the stages by which this reversal occurs. As he tells Prospero: Whenthou cam'stfirst, Thou strok'stme and made much of me; wouldst give me Waterwith berriesin't;and teach me how To name the bigger light, and how the less, That burn by day and night. And then I loved thee And showed thee all the qualitieso' th' isle. The fresh springs,brine pits, barrenplace and fertile. Cursedbe I that did so! All the charms Of Sycorax-toads, beetles, bats, light on you! For I am all the subjectsthat you have, Whichfirst was mine own king;and here you sty me In this hardrock, whiles you do keep from me The rest o' th' island. (i.ii. 332-344) The scenario Caliban recounts so graphically has been played out with infinite variations by the colonial enterprise, whether it is political, economic or religious, or all three, as is often the case. It is common practice to woo the natives with a combination of persuasive talk and gifts. There is also a display of Western abstract science, astronomy, for 46

example, which suitably impresses the natives, who in their turn offer the much more useful knowledge, indispensable for physical survival: "The fresh springs, brine pits, barren place and fertile." The seemingly helpless visitors soon take over, commandeering the natural resources for their own use as well as for profit. Cotton from Egypt, for example, was transported and fed to British mills, and the resulting finished product, English chintz, sold to the natives at extortionate prices. Prospero's links to the mother country are broken off, however, so he turns the island and its natives, Ariel and Caliban, into a source of profit for himself, so that they substitute for what he has lost. On the island he can continue his interrupted studies in magic while the natives minister to his physical comfort much as his servants did in Milan. This process of drawing sustenance from the host and weakening him can most accurately be described as parasitical. According to the OED, a parasite is, "An animal or plant which lives in or upon another organism (its host) and draws its nutrients directly from it." Colonialism, a form of human parasitism, has basically two major aspects: the colonizer draws not only physical nourishment, but also stimulation for the imagination at the expense of the natives. For example, the British, like Prospero, created mini-Englands wherever they established themselves and turned the natives into bureaucrats and servants who oiled the engines of quotidian life. They also used the conquered territories as food for their imaginations. From Kipling to Paul Scot, the so-called "dark"continents from India to Africa served as metaphors on which they could project their own deepest, darkest fantasies. Enslaving Caliban is necessary so that Prospero can pursue his interrupted avocation, magic and the arts, which not only give him pleasure but enable him to extend and strengthen his hegemony over the island. His magic enables him to terrorize the inhabitants, immobilize the new castaways, and awe them with theatrical displays. The key to establishing such mastery is, of course, teaching the natives the colonizers' language. Prospero instructs Caliban in the use of his own tongue. As is well known, Thomas Babington Macauley followed the same principles when he recommended an English education for Indians.4He recognized that the consolidation of the empire necessitated that the bureaucrats, the army, the police, etc., needed to learn just enough English to obey the dictates of the British government. An authoritative and imaginative use of the language was not part of the bargain. However, Caliban understands the precise nature of Prospero's designs and tries his best to subvert them: "You taught me language, and my profit on't / Is, I know how to curse" (1.11. 363-364). Caliban resists domestication, recognizing it for what it is: enslavement and servitude. Unlike Caliban the recalcitrant servant, Stevens, the butler, is the apotheosis of the perfect manservant who obliterates all traces of his own personality, all instinctive drives and desires, all individual dreams in the service of his master. The dream servant is none other than the English butler, the human robot with the "correct"accent, the "correct"manners. Stevens expresses, without a hint of self-awareness or irony, the quintessential Englishness of butlers: 47

It is sometimes said that butlers only truly exist in England. Other countries,whatevertitle is used, have only manservants.I tend to believe thisis true.Continentalsareunableto be butlersbecausethey area breed incapable of the emotional restraintwhich only the English race are capable of ... when you think of a great butler, he is bound, almost by definition,to be an Englishman.(43) It is no wonder, then, that the English butler has acquired the status of an icon in the popular imagination. In the first half of this century, P.G. Wodehouse's comic creation, Jeeves, a combination of nanny, father, god and butler to the upper class twit, Bertie Wooster, achieved immense popularity.5 More recently, Hudson, the butler in the very successful, long-running PBS television series Upstairs Downstairs, is Stevens' immediate forbear. Jeeves, Hudson and Stevens are indeed Prospero's dream of Caliban-divested of sexuality (an English butler with a sex life is unimaginable), perfectly trained and domesticated, who can use his master's language not to curse but to respond precisely and briefly to his commands. He fits Memmi's description of the colonized: "He is hardly a human being. He tends rapidly toward becoming an object" (86). As Stevens realizes, the perfect servant learns to play the role expected of him: The great butlers are great by virtue of their ability to inhabit their professionalrole and inhabit it to the utmost;they will not be shaken by externalevents, however surprising,alarmingor vexing. They wear their professionalismas a decent gentlemanwill wear his suit. (42-43) The metaphors of acting, of clothing, reveal how much Stevens' notions derive from entrenched Britishtraditions best known in such often quoted Shakespearean rags as: "All the world's a stage / And all the men and women players" (As You Like It) and "Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player / that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, / And is heard no more" (Macbeth). The British class system makes such role playing mandatory as every individual is expected to act out the role assigned to him/her at birth. A crucial element of such "acting" is the rigorous submission of the private self to the demands of the public persona. This self-effacement is bred in the bone from generation to generation, even as the British class system has survived largely intact through the centuries. In Stevens' case, hs is not only the son of a butler, but he also consciously strives to live up to the ideal of service achieved by his father. He narrates, with great pride, one particular incident in his father's life which exemplifies the famed British "self-restraint." Stevens' father is told by his master, an industrialist, that a general who was responsible for the needless death of a large number of young men during the Boer war is expected for luncheon. Among the young men who had died, thanks to the General's criminal irresponsibility, was Stevens' much loved only brother. The industrialist, who knows about the tragedy, offers to give his butler the day off. Stevens' father, ever dutiful, recognizing that "his employer's business aspirations hung on the 48

smooth running of the house party" (41) refuses, and even volunteers to act as valet to the general, thus suffering "the intimate proximity for four days with the man he detests" (42). The irony of this self abasement, seemingly unnoticed by Stevens and his father, is that the business dealings are thoroughly unsavory-illegal arms dealing-and both Stevens and his father do not question whether their sacrifices are for a worthy cause. This blindness foreshadows Stevens' own colossal obtuseness as to his master's true moral stature. Some of the most painfully ironic moments in the novel occur when Stevens lives up to the standards set by his father so well that he sacrifices his dying father'sneeds in order to ensure that Lord Darlington's dinner party runs smoothly. Summoned to his father's deathbed by the housekeeper, Stevens continues to serve port to the assembled guests, telling the housekeeper, "Miss Kenton, please don't think me unduly improper in not ascending to see my father in his deceased condition at this moment. You see, I know my father would have wished me to carry on just now" (106). As the assembled guests, almost all rich and powerful, feast and drink in elegant surroundings, the death of Stevens' father in a cell-like room is described in terms strangely evocative of human sacrifice. Ishiguro makes the parallel with delicate economy. As Stevens describes it, "I had expected the room to smell of death, but on account of Mrs. Mortimer-or else her apron-the room was dominated by the smell of roasting" (109). Thus with a single olfactory detail, Ishiguro inverts the colonizer's nightmare, beloved of cartoonists, of the cannibal chief dining on a well-roasted Englishman. Of course, the reality of the colonial situation is that it is the English, not the natives, who for centuries fed off of the colonies. It's a well-established fact of history that colonizers systematically depleted their colonies of their natural resources, starved the natives, and enriched themselves and their own country. Such exploitation was not always achieved through the use of force. As studies of colonialism have demonstrated, very often the natives colluded with their masters because they were misled into identifying with the colonizers' interests (Memmi, Fanon et. al.).6 Similarly, Stevens and his father fervently believe that they can best fulfill themselves by identifying totally with their masters' ambitions. As Stevens expresses it with his characteristically absurd brand of grandiloquence: As far as I am concerned,MissKenton,my vocation will not be fulfilled until I have done all I can to see his lordship throughall the tasks he has set himself. The day his lordship'swork is complete, the day he is able to rest on his laurels, content in the knowledge that he has done all anyone could ever reasonablyask of him, only on thatday, MissKenton, will I be able to call myself, as you put it, a well content man. (173) The comic absurdity of Stevens talking about his job as a butler in religious terms as a "vocation" should not obscure the tragic dimensions of his delusions. He repudiates all personal relationships, including the tentative gestures of tenderness by Miss Kenton, and eschews all personal 49

comfortsand pleasures,choosingto live in a small,damp, dark,austere room like a monk, because he finds fulfillment, or so he claims, in devotedly servingLordDarlingtonthe way a novice would serve a god. Indeed,DarlingtonHall,for all its grandeur,resemblesa luxurious monasteryin one key aspect:none of its inmateshas any kind of sex life. From the masterdown to the housekeeper,all lead celibatelives, strenuously sublimatingtheir libidinalenergies in the performanceof their duties. Lord Darlington, wholly consumed by internationalpolitics, doesn'thave any intimaterelationship,either with a woman or a man. Indeed, he seems asexual.Stevens stiffly resiststhe housekeeper,Miss Kenton'stentative overtures,and is primly disapprovingof romance between domestics,"I have always found such liaisonsa seriousthreat to the order of the house" (51). He prefers to read romanticnovels in secretinstead,andthe scenewhereMissKentoncatcheshim at it provides one of many understatedcomic episodes in the novel. At the otherend of the scale, thereis a superblyexecuted farcical scene when Stevensattempts,with his usualstiff pompousness,the task entrustedto him by LordDarlington-that of instructingyoung Reginald Cardinalin, as LordDarlingtonputs it, "Thefacts of life, Stevens.Birds, bees" (82). Reginald is the son of Sir David Cardinal,a politically influentialfigureand LordDarlington'sgodson. SirDavid has been trying to instructhis son in mattersof sex for the past five yearswithoutsuccess. Now the paternal concern has reached panic proportionsas young Reginaldis aboutto be married.Thata fathershouldassumehis twentythree year old is ignorantof sex is funny enough,but Lord Darlington's choice of words when he asksStevensto carryout the taskis instructive: "I'msorry to bring up a thing like this, Stevens. I know you must be awfully busy yourself.But I can'tsee how on earthto make it go away" (81). Passingon the task of sex educationto his butleralong with other menial tasks,puts sex in its proper place, so to speak. The empire and its discontentsrest on sublimationand, predictablyStevenstakeshis cue from his master. He does so because of a cruel misapprehension:he believes that LordDarlingtonis a greatmanand DarlingtonHalla noble housewhich, alongwith otherstatelyhomes, symbolizesthe greatnessof England.He views the world,he tellsus, not as a ladderto move up on, as otherbutlers did, but "as a wheel" (115) with England as the hub. By runningDarlington Hall with all the precisionof a general commandingan army, Stevens hopes he is making a contributionto England'srole as empire builder.He polishesthe silver, for instance,with religiouszeal because LordDarlingtonhasimpresseduponhim thatthe highpolishof the silver will put his guest, Lord Halifax,in a more amenableframe of mind, so that he will not balk at negotiatingwith the Germanambassador,Herr Ribbentrop.The brillianceof Ishiguro'snarrativestrategyis such that, just as Lord Darlingtonhas convinced Stevens of the importanceand nobilityof his diplomaticmaneuvering,the intimatetone of the narrative beguilesthe readerinto a curiouscomplicitywith Stevens'point of view; this enables one to empathize with Stevens even as the butler is completely takenin by Lord Darlington.Thus Ishiguromakesit possible for 50

the reader to experience every nuance of the cruelly comic hoax which lies at the core of the master/servant, colonizer/colonized relationship. However, midway through the novel the reader is alerted to the fact that not all is what it appears to be. Even the solid monumentality of Darlington Hall, the manifestation in brick and stone of England's long and unbroken history of "greatness" is not the real thing. As Mrs. Wakefield, a rich American anglophile, discovers after examining a stone arch that frames the doorway to the dining room, "This arch here looks seventeenth century, but isn't it the case that it was built quite recently? ... It's very beautiful. But it is probably a kind of mock period piece done only a few years ago" (123). Just as Darlington Hall is a "mock" period piece, Lord Darlington's "greatness" seems suspect. Our uneasiness about the veracity of Stevens' narrative deepens when he denies having worked for Lord Darlington at crucial moments during the trip. After having expounded at length on how proud he was to have served such a "great" master, why does Stevens feel compelled to lie? Was his service to Lord Darlington something to be ashamed of, in spite of all his protestations to the contrary? What is the truth about the "great" Lord Darlington? The truth is that Lord Darlington, far from having been admirable, was actually a crypto Fascist, busily engaged in the appeasement of Hitler. Influenced by Sir Oswald Mosley, the leader of the notorious British Union of Fascists, who is a frequent visitor at Darlington Hall, Lord Darlington believes that the world should properly be divided into two classes: the strong and the weak, leaders and followers, masters and servants. He does not really subscribe to the notion that "the will of the people is the wisest arbitrator" on which the democratic process is founded (197). As he expounds to Stevens, Look at Germanyand Italy, Stevens. See what strongleadership can do if it'sallowed to act. None of thisuniversalsuffragethere.If your house is on fire, you don't call the householdto the drawing room and debate the variousoptions for escape for an hour, do you? It may have been all very well once, but the world's a complicated place now. The man in the street can't be expected to know enough about politics, economics, world commerce and what have you. (199) This little summation of Fascist doctrine comes after the "kind" Lord Darlington subjects Stevens to a scene that is as painful to the reader (Stevens claims not to have been too disturbed to it) as Prince Hall's demonstration of the waiter Francis' illiteracy in Shakespeare's Henry IV Part I.7 Stevens is summoned to the drawing room well after midnight to answer a few questions put to him by Lord Darlington's friends. They proceed, with barely an attempt at concealing their patronizing attitude, to quiz him on the subtle intricacies of foreign policies and international trade. Stevens sees that, "it was clearly expected that I be baffled by the question" and makes the "suitable response" expected of him which is the stilted butler's answer, "I'm very sorry, sir; I said, 'but I'm unable to be of assistance on this matter" (195). He intones this standard response 51

repeatedly ratherlike a parrot, much to the edification of Lord Darlington and his friends. Thus Stevens fulfills another function of the colonizedhe provides entertainment besides physical sustenance to his masters. As mentioned earlier, parasitism embraces the metaphoric recastng of the colonized into imaginative forms in literature, myth and art. Although it is not clear whether Stevens is really unable to answer the question or whether he pretends ignorance in order to fulfill the expectations of his social betters, he ends up internalizing Lord Darlington's views: "There is, after all, a real limit to how much ordinary people can learn and know, and to demand that each and every one of them contribute 'strong opinions' to the great debates of the nation cannot, surely, be wise" (194). In other words, like his master, Stevens abrogates England's chief claim to greatness-its claim to being the "mother" of democracies, a claim which, historically, has provided the major justification for imposing its sovereignty over much of the globe. At the end of the novel, Harry Smith, a farmer in Devon, reiterates the idea of England's greatness as the model of democracy: And it's one of the privileges of being born Englishthat no matterwho you are, no matterif you're rich or poor, you are born free and you're born so that you can express your opinion freely and vote in your member of parliamentor vote him out. That's what dignity's really about, if you'll excuse me, sir. (186) His passionate defense of democratic ideals is sabotaged by the actual circumstances that have drawn him into a debate with Stevens. The chief reason for Harry Smith's colloquy is that he mistakes Stevens for a "posh" gentleman, a mistake that Stevens subtly encourages, without actually lying, by implying that he has rubbed shoulders with the likes of Churchill and Lord Halifax. Throughout the motoring trip, Stevens' borrowed clothes, borrowed car and borrowed accent and manner cause various people to almost mistake him for his master. In Devon, having run out of gas, he is offered hospitality by a simple farming couple. By a species of English bush telegraph, word spreads that a notable gentleman has landed in the village, and the farmers gather and question him avidly about his life and ideas. As always, like a good butler and a good Englishman, Stevens plays the role he is called upon to perform and expounds on issues, such as the question of dignity, with which he has already entertained the reader. According to Stevens, dignity is something a gentleman has. But Harry Smith's democratic notion that "dignity's something every man and woman in this country can strive for and get" (186) is undermined because he mistakes Stevens for a gentleman and that is the chief reason he takes Stevens' pronouncements so seriously. He thus underscores, with comic irony, Stevens' own view, learnt from Lord Darlington, that ordinary people may not be qualified to hold strong opinions. Stevens' brief masquerade uncovers a deeper problem which he has in common with the colonized. When Britain acquired much of the globe, it also trained the army, the police and the bureaucrats to aid in 52

their own exploitation. Part of the training was to turn them into brown Englishmen, speaking their masters' language, wearing their masters' clothes. A Western educated colonial is by definition a would-be Englishman who, bereft of his native identity, is often a figure of fun for either not speaking English well enough or so well that he sounds too precise and stiff. As he motors across England, Stevens is often mistaken for a "posh" gentleman, but never for long. He is soon found out, and the initial gratification at the mistake turns into acute embarrassment and humiliation. In Devon, while the "radical"Harry Smith treats Stevens with the kind of respectful regard that he would accord his betters, a doctor walks in, takes one look, and Stevens knows the game is up. His feeling of authority vanishes, and he continues to walk the tightrope of identity: a butler often mistaken for a lord, but never for long, just briefly enough to cause a frisson of acute anxiety. The situation is familiar to the Westernized native: culturally displaced, he neither belongs to his own society nor can he ever hope to attain a comfortable membership in his adopted country as he continues to wander in an existential and cultural limbo. Harry Smith's mistake also highlights a central contradiction in British society that, in its most intense forms, amounts to a kind of schizophrenia. Britain, like Harry Smith, has justifiably prided itself on its democratic government and has provided the model for the rest of the globe. Indeed, its pride in its institutions has often served as a justification for imposing its government on alien countries. But it also happens that England is one of the last surviving monarchies in the world. The monarchy, retained with all its symbolic, if not its political power, serves as the cornerstone of the class system. Its full panoply of pomp and circumstance reinforces the chasm between the upper and lower classes. All nuances of class-speech, manners, clothes-derive from the tone and style of the royal family. The most obvious example is the standard English that all English speakers aspire to, also termed the King's English. And it is this that finally imprisons every British citizen behind the bars of his class, no matter how free he may be legally and theoretically. Stevens will never form an opinion of his own; he will always trust Lord Darlington to lead him. Harry Smith's inability to distinguish a butler from his master calls into question his political judgment, for there is always the possibility that it will be clouded by the reflexive respect he accords his social superiors. At the end of his odyssey across England, Stevens recognizes, as the result of his unsettling experiences on the road, a devastating truth: "I trusted in his lordship's wisdom. All those years I served him, I trusted I was doing something worthwhile. I can't even say I made my own mistake. Really-one has to ask oneself-what dignity is there in that?" (243). And the man who had expounded at such absurdly tedious length on the importance of always maintaining one's dignity, of never revealing one's emotions in public, breaks down and weeps openly before a total stranger he meets on the pier at Weymouth. The stranger, a retiree, has talked about enjoying the remaining years of his life, in one of those moments of spontaneous intimacy which Stevens has experienced outside 53

the confines of DarlingtonHall and which forms a reassuringcounterpoint to the emotionalbankruptcyof his life. As they watch the sun set, the strangerassureshim that "The evening'sthe best part of the day. You'vedone your day'swork. Now you can put your feet up and enjoy it" (244).Stevenspreparesto take thiswell meantadvice, as he becomes aware,sittingon thatpier, of anothermode of being, not one of service, but of enjoyment in the spontaneous,unselfconsciouscamaraderieof strangers,somethingwhich he had never known untilnow. As the sun finallysets on the Britishempire,we hope thatStevens will replace his unquestioningloyalty to one masterwith membership in the largerhuman community.However, old habits of mind reassert themselvesin a new guise. His means of experiencinghuman warmth, Stevens decides, is to learn the art of banteringwhich his new master indulgesin andwhichhe seemsto expecthis Englishbutlerto reciprocate. If bantering is defined as verbal game-playing, we could interpret Stevens'decisionas a bid for freedom,at leaston a verballevel. Butalas, Stevens'attitudeto banteringis inevitablybutlerlike-he envisagesit as a servicehe mustperformto please his new employer:"Itoccursto me, furthermore, that bantering is hardly an unreasonable duty for an employer to expect a professionalto perform"(245). In other words, Stevens will learna new trickto performfor a new master.Even as he has acknowledgedthe waste of his life in serviceto a discreditedmaster, he preparesto devote the rest of his life to another.As he rationalizes, "Thehardreality,is surely,that for the likes of you and I, there is little choice otherthanto leave ourfate, ultimately,in the handsof those great gentlemenat the hub of this world who employ our services"(244).The sun has indeed set for the Britishempire,but Stevenspreparesto adjust himself to its rise on Americanshores.Caliban,it will be remembered, sought to free himself from Prospero'styranny,only to enslavehimself to Stephanoand Trinculo,his new masters.Insteadof cursing,Stevens like Caliban,will learnto banter.The cruelhoax,the false consciousness, bred in the bones of generationscaught in the vise of the class system, will not be eradicatedby a single amountof anagnorisis. It is a measureof Ishiguro'snovelisticgeniusthatwhile he presents the historicalcontext of Stevens'tragedy with the delicate economy of a sketch by Hokusai,the power of the novel resides in the precise and powerful articulationof human feeling, which is none the less painful for being oblivious of historicalforces. For the majorityof us who do not play leadingroles on the world'sstage, historyis not experiencedas "history,"but as it affects the fabricand textureof personalrelationships. What the critic Raymond Williamssays about the great traditionof nineteenth-centuryfiction is applicableto Remainsof the Day: "Neither element,neitherthe society nor the individual,is thereas a priority.The society is not a backgroundagainstwhich the personalrelationshipsare studied,nor the individualsmerely illustrationsof aspectsof the way of life. Every aspect of personallife is radicallyaffected by the qualityof the general life, yet the general life is seen at its most importantin completely personal terms"("Realismand the ContemporaryNovel" Partisan Review XXVI 200-213). 54

NOTES 1. Born in Nagasaki,Japan in 1954, Ishiguromoved to England in 1960 with his parents when his father, an oceanographer,was invited to participate in the Britishgovernment'sresearchon the North Sea. He attended British schools and graduatedfrom the University of Kent, where he majored in English literature.He studied creative writing at the University of East Anglia.His firsttwo novels,A Pale View of HillsandAn Artistof the Floating World, set in post-war Japan, won the WhitbreadBook of the Year and Winifred Holtby prizes. The Remains of the Day, his third novel, set in Englandin 1956,won the 1989BookerPrize. 2. LawrenceGraver,writingin The New YorkTimesBook Review (8.10.89):3 notes that, "It is remarkable,too, that as we read along in this strikingly originalnovel, we continueto thinknot only about the old butler,but about his country, its politics and culture."Among others who have commented on the culturaland politicalimplicationsof the novel are:SusanneWah Lee in the Nation (18.12.89):761.and Rhoda Koenig in New York Magazine (16.10.89):81. 3. In his groundbreakingstudy, Prospero and Caliban: The Psychology of Colonization (N. York:FrederickA. Praeger, 1964). 0. Mannonianalyzes the dynamic between the colonizer and colonized, using the ProsperoCaliban relationship as a paradigmatic model. Since his approach is psychological, Mannonidoes not give sufficient weight to the economic realities of the colonial enterprise.Thus, his stress on the supposed innate superiority/inferiority complexes of the colonizer and colonized has justifiablyarousedmuch controversy.A correctiveto Mannoni'sview is set out eloquently in Frantz Fanon'sBlack Skin,White Mask (N. York:Grove Press Inc. 1967). Fanon rightly points out that feelings of superiorityand inferiorityare induced by the very real economic imbalances created by colonization. Another corrective to Mannoni's views is Aime Cesaire, Discourse on Colonialism(London:Oxford University Press, 1982). For a recent discussionof Calibanas a symbol of the colonized native, see Alden T. Vaughan'sessay, "Calibanin the 'Third World"':Shakespeare'sSavage as SociopoliticalSymbol."in The MassachusettsReview, 29 (1988). 4. Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800-1859), Member of the House of Commons, essayistand educator,was Law Member,Governmentof India between 1837-1838,and his famous Minute on Education, reflecting the views of Bentick and Trevelyn, was instrumentalin shaping Britisheducation in India. 5. P.G. Wodehouse (1881-1975)was the authorof nearly a hundredbooksnovels, short stories, essays, an autobiography-which were immensely popularall over the world, but especiallyso in Britishcolonies. Mostmiddle class Indians,for example, were broughtup on a daily diet of ArthurConan Doyle, Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens, P.G. Wodehouse and Agatha Christie. Jeeves, the paragon of a butler to the dim-witted but amiable gentlemanabout town, BertieWooster,achieved a mythicalstatuson a par with Conan Doyle's creation-Sherlock Holmes. Born in England, P.G. Wodehouse spent the last three decades of his life in the USA, and wrote about the social inequities in England with nostalgic good humor not unmixed with clear-eyed satire. There is a curioussimilaritybetween P.G. Wodehouse and Lord Darlingtonin their political naivete during the war. When he was briefly a prisonerin Germany,Wodehouse,pressuredby the Germans, made a number of broadcasts which were construed as proGermanand caused a huge furorin England.For a while, P.G. Wodehouse 55

found himself persona non grata in his own country, and this may have contributedto his decision to spend the rest of his life in America. 6. See Albert Memmi, The Colonizerand the Colonized. Also, FrantzFanon, The Wretchedof the Earth. 7. In Shakespeare'sHenry IV PartI, Prince Hal, who is very popular among frequenters of the Eastcheap tavern because of his egalitarianism, undertakesto demonstratethe illiteracyof Francis,the waiter. To this end, he calls on Francis with various confusing orders in quick succession till Francisis struckdumb, to the amusementof all present.Hal concludeswith, "Thatever this fellow should have fewer words than a parrot,and yet the son of a woman! His industryis upstairsand downstairs,his eloquence the parcelof a reckoning"(11.IV.99.102).Hal'sinsensitivityto the consequences of poverty is astonishingbut entirelyin keeping with the self-servingmyopia of the rulingclasses. WORKS CITED Fanon, Frantz. The Wretchedof the Earth.N. York:Grove Press, 1965. .Black Skin,White Mask.N. York:Grove Press, 1967. Graver, Lawrence. Review of The Remains of the Day. N.Y. Times Book Review 8.10.1989:3. KazuoIshiguro.The Remainsof the Day. New York:Alfred Knopf, 1989.All quotationsare from this edition and are indicatedby page numberwithin parentheses. Koenig,Rhoda. New YorkMagazine.16.10.1989:81. Lee, SusanneWah. The Nation. 10.12.1989:761. Mannoni,O. Prosperoand Caliban:The Psychologyof Colonization.N. York: FrederickA. Praeger,1956. Memmi,Albert.The Colonizerand the Colonized.Boston:BeaconPress,1965. Williams,Raymond."Realismand the ContemporaryNovel" PartisanReview XXVI:200-231.


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