Faculty of International Studies
【国際学部】リレー・エッセイ(22) Anthony Mills “Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day and Downton Abbey”
I was pleased for two reasons when Kazuo Ishiguro won the Nobel prize in literature in October this year. First of all, I am a fan of Ishiguro’s work, so I was happy for his success. I particularly like the early novels A Pale View of Hills and An Artist of the Floating World, both of which are set in post-WW2 Japan and draw on Ishiguro’s childhood memories. I am also very impressed by the dystopian Never Let Me Go, which, among other things, explores issues related to human cloning.
The second reason I was pleased, however, was that on the day after the prize was announced I received a text message from a former Kyoritsu student. She wrote to me because Ishiguro winning the Nobel prize had reminded her of when she was an undergraduate in Hachioji and we had studied the novel The Remains of the Day in her 3rd-year seminar. It was good to get this message and to think that a former student from many years ago still remembered her classes at Kyoritsu fondly.
The Remains of the Day is Ishiguro’s most famous novel and it was made into a successful film starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. It tells the story of the unraveling of the life and world of a butler in a British stately home. It is concerned with themes of tradition, social class, memory and duty.
In early November, I was watching television at home one evening and the popular British drama series Downton Abbey was being shown on NHK. I enjoy watching this series. Although it is less than realistic and is more of a soap opera than a serious historical drama, it is entertaining and it is worth watching just to see the clothes and the hats. The story deals with the lives and fortunes of an aristocratic British family and their servants in the first half of the twentieth century. While I was watching, however, I began to compare the world depicted in Downton Abbey with Ishiguro’s portrayal of life in a stately home in The Remains of the Day. When it comes down to it, Ishiguro’s imaginary world is much more interesting, satisfying and worth spending time on.