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No Homelike Place: The Lesson of History in Kazuo Ishiguro’s An Artist of the Floating World

No Homelike Place: The Lesson of History in Kazuo Ishiguro’s An Artist of the Floating World TIMOTHY WRIGHT arly in Kazuo Ishiguro's first novel, A Pale View of Hills (1982), the narrator Etsuko makes a grim admission. Her eldest daughter, brought to England as a child when Etsuko left Japan after the war, is several years dead. Never able to adjust to her new country, without friends, she has taken her own life, her body hanging undiscovered in her Manchester bedsit for several days. "The horror of that image has never diminished," says Etsuko, "but it has long ceased to be a morbid matter; as with a wound on one's own body, it is possible to develop an intimacy with the most disturbing of things" (54). Intimacy with the disturbing turns out to be the leitmotif of Etsuko's story, and indeed of Ishiguro's oeuvre as a whole. We discover that the daughter's suicide is merely one manifestation of an ongoing historical trauma from which, despite time and distance, she cannot fully emerge. The emotional devastation, the sense of terrible historical guilt, the unlocalizable shame that continues to accompany Etsuko even after she marries a British citizen and moves to the English countryside--all this is bound up with the bombing of her home city, Nagasaki, http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Contemporary Literature University of Wisconsin Press

No Homelike Place: The Lesson of History in Kazuo Ishiguro’s An Artist of the Floating World

Contemporary Literature , Volume 55 (1)

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University of Wisconsin Press
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Copyright © the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin.
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Abstract

TIMOTHY WRIGHT arly in Kazuo Ishiguro's first novel, A Pale View of Hills (1982), the narrator Etsuko makes a grim admission. Her eldest daughter, brought to England as a child when Etsuko left Japan after the war, is several years dead. Never able to adjust to her new country, without friends, she has taken her own life, her body hanging undiscovered in her Manchester bedsit for several days. "The horror of that image has never diminished," says Etsuko, "but it has long ceased to be a morbid matter; as with a wound on one's own body, it is possible to develop an intimacy with the most disturbing of things" (54). Intimacy with the disturbing turns out to be the leitmotif of Etsuko's story, and indeed of Ishiguro's oeuvre as a whole. We discover that the daughter's suicide is merely one manifestation of an ongoing historical trauma from which, despite time and distance, she cannot fully emerge. The emotional devastation, the sense of terrible historical guilt, the unlocalizable shame that continues to accompany Etsuko even after she marries a British citizen and moves to the English countryside--all this is bound up with the bombing of her home city, Nagasaki,

Journal

Contemporary LiteratureUniversity of Wisconsin Press

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