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John Zaixin Zhang




Englishman/Suit, Kernel/Facade in The Remains of the Day  

2008-11-02 11:10:32|  分类: +小说阅读 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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Zhang, John Zaixin. Notes on The Remains of the Day

Ishiguro, Kazuo. The Remains of the Day (1989). New York: Vintage, New York, 1990.


3, 4    Mr. Farraday’s style – confidence, informal

11       Clothes – worthy of one’s position, self-conscious

14        Style - insecure

16        Responding to bantering

25        Formal speaking – hard to understand

26-7    Darlington Hall – class status

28-9    English landscape – calmness of beauty, sense of restraint - Africa and America – “unseemly demonstrativeness” (like his style) (clothes, language) – related to the question of what a great butler is

29, 43 Landscape/butler: Only the English are capable of emotional restraint.

33       Dignity of a great butler – not nature, but self-training and experience

34        Command of language and general knowledge – icing on the cake – the superficial, not the essence of butler’s greatness.

35        Trimmings (language, general knowledge about facts) vs. basic fundamentals (dignity in keeping with his position, father).

36-41  Dignity of a butler – calmness, readiness to oblige, loyalty to employer (defend his dignity), keeping boss’s best interests in mind despite personal feelings – humility.

42-3    Kernel vs. façade of dignity – ability to inhabit their professional role to the utmost.

43       Wear professionalism as a suit: kernel vs. façade blurred (for show in the public gaze). Great butler = Englishman

43-4    Depth of professionalism hard to imagine – to “dislodge a professionalism born with such authority” (kernel/façade?) – (as if professionalism could be separated from a larger whole)

44        Butlers/landscape.

51        Digressing.

51-2    “A reasonable solution” to hire father – nepotism, hypocrite.

55-60  Incompetence of father, conflict with Kenton over it.

65        Father knows his style: “Relate it briefly and concisely.”

64       First time to come into father’s room.

84-5    Being indirect – misunderstanding. (Men and women differ – facts of life, birds and bees – but for Mr. Cardinal: “Nothing more on this Dupont fellow?” – Stevens: thought the task was behind him, but actually “unassaulted” before him

85-6    Informal manner of Lewis won the confidence of the “home team”.

88       Writing in place of speaking.

89-90  Indirect again to Mr. Cardinal about facts of life. (Stevens: geese, arrival of spring – to hint at birds and bees; Cardinal: no attention to the “glory of nature” – M. Dupont’s arrival, in the “foulest mood”)

97       No communication with father.

104-5  Father – suffered a stroke, but Stevens returned to duty, served a glass, crying, served more drinks.

105, 107 Half-truth, lying about the doctor (for Dupont’s feet, but actually for the dead father)

106     Father dead, duty first – emotionally numb

110           Dignity of father and me as great butlers.

113           Outmoded understanding of what a distinguished household is

114           Landed gentry vs. business (furthering progress)

115           My father’s generation tended to see the world in terms of a ladder – hierarchy determined by wealth; our generation viewed the world as a wheel – great decisions not arrived at in the public chambers but in the privacy of the great houses of the country (Private vs. public, hub vs. rim)

116           Nothing brought him lasting satisfaction until he was rewarded with the opportunity to serve Darlington.

117           A “great” butler, one who has applied his talents to serving a great gentleman, and through him, to serving humanity. [Implying he is such a great butler]

120     Deny association with Darlington (to the man who helped with his car, used to be a colonel’s batman).

122     The incident with the batman not the first of its kind

124     Mr. Farraday: wants to make sure Stevens is a real old English butler, not mock as Mrs. Wakefield thought he was and this house a genuine grand old English house (not mock). [Doubts Stevens’s claim as a real butler].

126     Avoid unpleasantness – defend employer’s name if nonsense? Mock, not a great butler?

130     Inappropriate witticism – woken up by the missus shouting at her husband from the crack of dawn – a local variation on the cock crow – silence, the broke into a laugh, in a bemused fashion

131     Hasn’t acquired the skill yet.

134     Silver-polishing – a public index of a house’s standards. Kernel/façade

135-6  Silverware put Halifax into a different frame of mind – superficial in state affairs.

136-7  Defend D against accusation: hospitality from the Nazis, anti-Semitic.

138     Being indirect about the impact of the silver, blowing up his own role in furthering the cause of humanity.

139     Last April, Mr. Farraday touched the prongs of a fork – Stevens removed the “offending item” – “genuine embarrassment to me.”

140     Explaining errors like that away with an excuse of “staff shortage.”

146     Darlington’s “little contact” with Sir Oswald Mosley (“blackshirts” organization) as “flimsy basis” for “absurd allegations” – “untypical incidents took place in Darlington Hall” (ceasing giving donations to a local Jewish charity, no Jews on the staff)

147     Dismissing two Jews – “There’s the safety and well-being of my guests to consider.”

158     Humble character makes him amiable, understanding toward Kenton’s misjudgment of Lisa.

168-9  Good accent + language vs. more important qualities: sentimental content (in the past, absurd) - feelings of love (nothing absurd now) (content) vs. elegant phrases (rhetoric): it sheds light on our understanding of “icing on a cake” (34) or the “trimmings” (35) – content (kernel) vs. elegant phrases (icing on the cake) - the meaning of content as the kernel of a novel is subject to change (from sentimentality to feelings of love).

169    A butler’s dignity in keeping with his position: “must be seen to inhabit his role, utterly and fully” – may “unburden himself of his role,” “when he is entirely alone.” – When Miss Kenton bursts in, Stevens is to be alone, but still he doesn’t appear in “anything less than my full and proper role.” – tragedy of his life: wearing his suit of professionalism (as a mask to hide his insecurity) all the time (can’t be entirely alone with someone present). - to “unburden” (negative connotation) himself of his role (heavy weight of the suit)

173     Kenton “tests” his plan in life (may be personal), but Stevens responds to it as a butler (duty to Darlington), not as a man.

179     No mention why a turning point. His disorganization created suspense (character, plot)

180     Her own person (speech) over letter (writing). “Drift” again.

183     Ford – status symbol to the locals.

184     Fine house, good suits – no gentleman.

185     Clothes, language + sth else. “Quality”? Manners? Dignity?

186     Henry Smith: Dignity for everyone to have, not just sth for gentlemen. Dignity – freedom as being born English.

187-8 “Acting high and mighty” (185) – Foreign policy – “unofficial capacity” – silver polishing? (135-6) – awe in locals – half-truths.

195-7  My ignorance of answers to 3 questions assisted in showing a point – against the will of the people being the wisest arbitrator.

197-8  Darlington: outmoded systems in Britain’s democracy – for a bygone era.

198     About Spencer’s attack on the Parliament (faulty analogy), Darlington says, “He put it rather well.”   - Darlington for Nazi Germany and Italy.

199     House on fire and debate in drawing room for escape options (faulty analogy). - “Within our realm” not to meddle with state affairs. (187-8. “meddle” in state affairs). Refutes “misguided idealism” but forgets what he himself did.

199-200    Butler forever reappraising his employer. Loyalty. Employer – embodiment of the noble and admirable

201     Can’t be blamed if Darlington misguided.

210     Dignity – not removing clothes in public (Doctor bemused).

215     Proposal from boyfriend – Kenton giving the matter some thought (for Stevens to stop her).

218-9  No interest in what happened (proposal)? Global significance vs. personal matter. -       Kenton and friend talk about Stevens all the time.

222     Loyalty to employer or to the Crown [where dignity lies]. Darlington fooled by Nazis.

223     Mr. Cardinal: Darlington, old English gentleman. The Germans use Darlington’s generosity for their own foul ends. Mr Cardinal, drunk.

225     Darlington – noblest, highest. To ensure peace in Europe. Trust his good judgment. (Irony)

227     Triumph, not let personal matter get in the way of position/duty. The most powerful gentlemen conferring on the fate of Europe. (Irony)

239     Heart breaking. Missed his chance for happiness with Kenton - “a better life you might have had”

244     Make the best of the remains of the day (old age, past glories). No worry about what you could or could not have done to control the course of life (he could have controlled it) – sacrifice to pursue aspiration – pride and contentment.

243-5  Keep looking forward.


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