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Myth and Mimetic Failure in The Remains of the Day

Myth and Mimetic Failure in The Remains of the Day MONIKA GEHLAWAT azuo Ishiguro's novels frequently rely upon a firstperson voice to show how narrative reveals knowledge about its characters through its formal structure. Formalism is the key to The Remains of the Day, and for this reason, Ishiguro's project is inextricably bound up with that of his protagonist Mr. Stevens. In both novel and protagonist, the problem of presentation and staging becomes the very texture of the emergent object as well as its central motivation for being. The Remains of the Day is constructed as a kind of Russian nesting doll of creative workmanship; there is no ontological basis for the subjects and objects we find within it. That said, I don't propose to conduct a poststructuralist reading of Remains but rather look to Theodor Adorno's aesthetic and cultural theory to understand how formal inquiry can produce the grounds for ethical critique within the novel. Contrary to critics like The New Yorker's Terrence Rafferty who suggests that Ishiguro "spends all his imaginative energies in `artifice' rather than an expression of life" (qtd. in Parkes 72), I believe that it is precisely through the novel's hermetic formal structure that socially charged--or to use Adorno's term, "world-historical"--processes complicate its http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Contemporary Literature University of Wisconsin Press

Myth and Mimetic Failure in The Remains of the Day

Contemporary Literature , Volume 54 (3) – Nov 25, 2013

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Publisher
University of Wisconsin Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin.
ISSN
1548-9949
Publisher site
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Abstract

MONIKA GEHLAWAT azuo Ishiguro's novels frequently rely upon a firstperson voice to show how narrative reveals knowledge about its characters through its formal structure. Formalism is the key to The Remains of the Day, and for this reason, Ishiguro's project is inextricably bound up with that of his protagonist Mr. Stevens. In both novel and protagonist, the problem of presentation and staging becomes the very texture of the emergent object as well as its central motivation for being. The Remains of the Day is constructed as a kind of Russian nesting doll of creative workmanship; there is no ontological basis for the subjects and objects we find within it. That said, I don't propose to conduct a poststructuralist reading of Remains but rather look to Theodor Adorno's aesthetic and cultural theory to understand how formal inquiry can produce the grounds for ethical critique within the novel. Contrary to critics like The New Yorker's Terrence Rafferty who suggests that Ishiguro "spends all his imaginative energies in `artifice' rather than an expression of life" (qtd. in Parkes 72), I believe that it is precisely through the novel's hermetic formal structure that socially charged--or to use Adorno's term, "world-historical"--processes complicate its

Journal

Contemporary LiteratureUniversity of Wisconsin Press

Published: Nov 25, 2013

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