1989: The Remains of the Day
Author: Kazuo Ishiguro
Stevens is an English butler who highly values his role in society and has undying loyalty to his employer of over thirty years. Told in a retrospective, journal entry type of style, The Remains of the Day explores Stevens’ life as a butler in pre-World War II England and his struggles to adapt to a new social norm after the war. He has sacrificed relationships with his family and repressed his feelings for Miss Kenton, the housekeeper, in order to do his duty by his master and by extension, in his eyes, his country.
Ishiguro seems to almost poke fun at the fabled English country house culture and the class system – he claims that the international view of “[t]he English butler [who] has to be terribly reserved and not have any personal reaction to anything that happens around him” was useful in creating this story for a global audience. We see similar personalities amongst the characters in British television shows such as Upstairs, Downstairs and Downton Abbey.