“What is the point of worrying oneself too much about what one could or could not have done to control the course one’s life took? Surely it is enough that the likes of you and I at least try to make our small contribution count for something true and worthy. And if some of us are prepared to sacrifice much in life in order to pursue such aspirations, surely that in itself, whatever the outcome, cause for pride and contentment.”
― Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day
The Remains of the Day is both beautiful and cruel. It is a story primarily about regret: throughout his life, Stevens puts his absolute trust and devotion in a man who makes drastic mistakes. In the totality of his professional commitment, Stevens fails to pursue the one woman with whom he could have had a fulfilling and loving relationship. His prim mask of formality cuts him off from intimacy, companionship, and understanding.
Stevens’ story is told with the detail and precision that he devotes to his career. He is controlled too tightly, by himself, and seems scared to let go in case it rebounds in a way he couldn’t handle.
A beautiful story told carefully and if you need a helping of the stiff upper lip facia of the 50’s principled gentleman, then open the book and enter his world.