Reconstructing the Past as a Means of Rationalizing the Present: A Study of Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of The Day (1989)

Mohamed Fathi Helaly Khalaf


The postwar world period was riddled with rapid changes at the different levels. Many people felt they were not able to come to terms with such ongoing changes and had to find a way to coexist with the status-quo. Postmodernism looks upon man as a social being that should learn how to adapt himself to whatever situation by whatever means available. Ishiguro’s novels are written in an expanded humanistic tradition. They are stories dealing with human relationship. They are narratives centering on the working of consciousness and the unconsciousness of the human mind. Ishiguro is concerned with reworking of the past from a late twentieth century perspective. The purpose of this study is to trace the postmodern aspects in The Remains of The Day through the life and character of Stevens and his relationships with the people that he has lived with. Stevens struggles to come to term with his present through telling stories and anecdotes of his past life. The novel depicts the role that memories can play in reconstructing the past events so that the present can be meaningful in some way from a postmodern standpoint. As a postwar British individual, the protagonist of the novel tries to practice suppression over his emotions at the personal level as well as the professional level to construct a new identity. Stevens appears torn between memories of the past and the representation of the present. He is suffering from an identity crisis and striving to create a meaningful present for himself. As a postmodern man, Stevens has to struggle at different levels. He is leading a life riddled with inconsistencies and contradictions. He can’t feel at home with the surrounding world as he is always busy trying to achieve some perfection that is not attainable in a world riddled with conflicts and struggle.


Reconstruction, rationalize, past, present, postmodernism, inconsistency, contradiction, fragmentation, memory, professionalism, suppression, crisis

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