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Authors: The Remains of the Day Quotes, The Remains of the Day Important Quotes, Quotations, Sayings from the Kazuo Ishiguro novel
It seems increasingly likely that I really will undertake the expedition that has been preoccupying my imagination now for some days.
The Remains of the Day
First lines of novel, Prologue - Darlington Hall. Stevens, the aging butler of Darlington Hall, is about to embark on a leisurely holiday that will take him deep into the English countryside and into his past.
It has been my privilege to see the best of England over the years, sir, within these very walls.
The Remains of the Day
Stevens to Mr Farraday, Prologue - Darlington Hall.
To see the best before I have properly begun would be somewhat premature.
The Remains of the Day
Stevens, Prologue - Darlington Hall.
The English landscape at its finest - such as I saw this morning - possesses a quality that the landscapes of other nations, however more superficially dramatic, inevitably fail to possess. It is, I believe, a quality that will mark out the English landscape to any objective observer as the most deeply satisfying in the world, and this quality is probably best summed up by the term 'greatness.'...And yet what precisely is this greatness?...I would say that it is the very lack of obvious drama or spectacle that sets the beauty of our land apart. What is pertinent is the calmness of that beauty, its sense of restraint. It is as though the land knows of its own beauty, of its own greatness, and feels no need to shout it.
The Remains of the Day
Stevens, on the greatness of Britain. Day One, Evening - Salisbury.
I can declare that he was a truly good man at heart, a gentleman through and through, and one I am today proud to have given my best years of service to.
The Remains of the Day
Stevens of Lord Darlington. Day Two, Morning - Salisbury.
"He was my enemy," he was saying, "but he always behaved like a gentleman. We treated each other decently over six months of shelling each other. He was a gentleman doing his job and I bore him no malice. I said to him: 'Look here, we're enemies now and I'll fight you with all I've got. But when this wretched business is over, we shan't have to be enemies any more and we'll have a drink together.' Wretched thing is, this treaty is making a liar out of me. I mean to say, I told him we wouldn't be enemies once it was all over. But how can I look him in the face and tell him that's turned out to be true?"
The Remains of the Day
Stevens recalls Lord Darlington speaking of his German friend Herr Bremann. Day Two, Morning - Salisbury.
I wonder if it wouldn't have been better if the Almighty had created us all as - well- as sort of plants. You know, truly embedded in the soil. Then none of this rot about wars and boundaries would have come up in the first place...But we could still have chaps like ytou taking messages back and forth, bringing tea, that sort of thing. Otherwise, how would we get anything done?
The Remains of the Day
Reginald Cardinal. Day Two, Morning - Salisbury.
By the very nature of a witticism, one is given very little time to assess its various possible repercussions before one is called to give voice to it, and one gravely risks uttering all manner of unsuitable things if one has not first acquired the necessary skill and experience.
The Remains of the Day
Stevens. Day Three, Morning - Taunton, Somerset.
"Surely I don't have to remind you that our professional duty is not to our own foibles and sentiments, but to the wishes of our employer."
"If you dismiss my girls tomorrow, it will be wrong, a sin as any sin ever was one and I will not continue to work in such a house."
The Remains of the Day
Stevens and head housekeeper Miss Kenton argue, over his planned dismissal of two servents because they are Jews, on orders of Lord Darlington. Day Three, Evening - Moscombe, near Tavistock, Devon.
Had I been anyone worthy of any respect at all, I dare say I would have left Darlington Hall long ago... It was cowardice, Mr. Stevens. Simple cowardice. Where could I have gone?... There, that's all my high principles amount to. I feel so ashamed of myself... I just couldn't bring myself to leave.
The Remains of the Day
Miss Kenton to Stevens. Day Three, Evening - Moscombe, near Tavistock, Devon.
Why, Mr Stevens, why, why, why do you always have to pretend?
The Remains of the Day
Miss Kenton to Stevens. Day Three , Evening - Moscombe, near Tavistock, Devon.
You do not like pretty girls to be on the staff. Might it be that our Mr Stevens fears distraction? Can it be that our Mr Stevens is flesh and blood after all and cannot fully trust himself?... It is a guilty little smile you have on, Mr Stevens. And I've noticed how you can hardly bear to look at Lisa. Now it is beginning to become clear why you objected so strongly to her.
The Remains of the Day
Miss Kenton to Stevens. Day Three, Evening - Moscombe, near Tavistock, Devon.
She's so foolish. She might have had a real career in front of her. She had ability. So many young women like her throw away their chances, and all for what?
The Remains of the Day
Miss Kenton on young housemaid Lisa running away with second footman, leaving a letter saying they did not have money but they had love and each other and that was all anyone could ever want. Day Three, Evening - Moscombe, near Tavistock, Devon.
Indeed... Such a waste, as you say.
The Remains of the Day
Stevens agrees with Miss Kenton, on maid Lisa quitting to run off with footman. Day Three, Evening - Moscombe, near Tavistock, Devon.
Then she was standing before me, and suddenly the atmosphere underwent a peculiar change - almost as though the two of us had been suddenly thrust on to some other plane of being altogether. I am afraid it is not easy to describe clearly what I mean here. All I can say is that everything around us suddenly became very still; it was my impression that Miss Kenton's manner also underwent a sudden change; there was a strange seriousness in her expression, and it struck me she seemed almost frightened.
The Remains of the Day
Miss Kenton enters the butler's pantry uninvited and insists on seeing a book Stevens is reading. Day Three, Evening - Moscombe, near Tavistock, Devon.
A butler of any quality must be seen to inhabit his role, utterly and fully; he cannot be seen casting it aside one moment simply to don it again the next as though it were nothing more than a pantomime costume.
The Remains of the Day
Stevens reflects on his 'off duty' encounter with Miss Kenton in the pantry. Day Three, Evening - Moscombe, near Tavistock, Devon.
"Miss Kenton', I assured him, "is a devoted professional. I happen to know for a fact that she has no wish for a family."
The Remains of the Day
Stevens to butler colleague Mr Graham, who suggests Miss Kenton has missed out on the best of her mothering years, but it's not too late yet for her. Day Three, Evening - Moscombe, near Tavistock, Devon.
...the possibility that the purpose of these mysterious outings of Miss Kenton was to meet a suitor...was indeed a disturbing notion, for it was not hard to see that Miss Kenton's departure would constitute a professional loss of some magnitude, a loss Darlington Hall would have some difficulty recovering from.
The Remains of the Day
Stevens wonders if Miss Kenton's disappearances from the house during her time off means she is seeing somebody. Day Three, Evening - Moscombe, near Tavistock, Devon.
The day his lordship's work is complete, the day he is able to rest on his laurels, content in the knowledge that he has done all anyone could ever reasonably ask of him, only on that day, Miss Kenton, will I be able to call myself, as you put it, a well-contented man.
The Remains of the Day
Stevens to Miss Kenton, after she suggests he must be a well-contented man. Day Three, Evening - Moscombe, near Tavistock, Devon.
Indeed, it might even be said that this small decision of mind constituted something of a turning point; that the decision set things on an inevitable course towards what eventually happened. But then, I suppose, when with the benefit of hindsight one begins to search one's past for such 'turning points', one is apt to start seeing them everywhere.
The Remains of the Day
Stevens on his decision to re-establish his relationship with Miss Kenton as merely professional after the incident with her in the pantry. Day Three, Evening - Moscombe, near Tavistock, Devon.
In any case, while it is all very well to talk of ‘turning points’, one can surely only recognize such moments in retrospect. Naturally, when one looks back to such instances today, they may indeed take the appearance of being crucial, precious moments in one’s life; but of course, at the time, this was not the impression one had. Rather, it was as though one had available a never-ending number of days, months, years in which to sort out the vagaries of one’s relationship with Miss Kenton; an infinite number of further opportunities in which to remedy the effect of this or that misunderstanding. There was surely nothing to indicate at the time that such evidently small incidents would render whole dreams forever irredeemable.
The Remains of the Day
Miss Kendon on the death of her aunt, her only living relative. Day Three, Evening - Moscombe, near Tavistock, Devon.
The trouble with his sort is they mistake acting high and mighty for dignity.
The Remains of the Day
Mrs Taylor, one of the commoners. Day Three, Evening - Moscombe, near Tavistock, Devon.
And you think that it was my good fortune to have had their ear on many great issues of the day, yes, when I think back, I do feel a certain gratitude. It's a great privilege, after all, to have been given a part to play, however small, on the world's stage.
The Remains of the Day
Stevens, who the commoners take for being modest. Day Three, Evening - Moscombe, near Tavistock, Devon.
There is, after all, a real limit to how much ordinary people can learn and know, and to demand that each and every one of them contribute 'strong opinions' to the great debates of the nation cannot, surely, be wise. It is, in any case, absurd that anyone should presume to define a person's 'dignity' in these terms.
The Remains of the Day
Stevens. Day Three, Evening - Moscombe, near Tavistock, Devon.
Germany and Italy have set their houses in order by acting. And so have the wretched Bolsheviks in their own way, one supposes. Even President Roosevelt... But look at us here, Stevens. Year after year goes by, and nothing gets better. All we do is argue and debate and procrastinate. Any decent idea is amended to ineffectuality by the time it's gone half-way through the various committees it's obliged to pass through. The few people qualified to know what's what are talked to a standstill by ignorant people all around them. What do you make of it, Stevens?
The Remains of the Day
Lord Darlington. Day Three, Evening - Moscombe, near Tavistock, Devon.
Let us establish this quite clearly: a butler's duty is to provide good service. It is not to meddle in the great affairs of the nation. The fact is, such great affairs will always be beyond the understanding of those such as you and I, and those of us who wish to make our mark must realize that we best do so by devoting our attention to providing the best possible service to those great gentlemen in whose hands the destiny of civilization truly lies.
The Remains of the Day
Stevens. Day Three, Evening - Moscombe, near Tavistock, Devon.
How can one possibly be held to blame in any sense because, say, the passage of time has shown that Lord Darlington's efforts were misguided, even foolish? Throughout the years I served him, it was he and he alone who weighed up evidence and judged it best to proceed in the way he did, while I simply confined myself, quite properly, to affairs within my own professional realm. And as far as I am concerned, I carried out my duties to the best of my abilities, indeed to a standard which many may consider 'first-rate.' It is hardly my fault is his lordship's life and work have turned out today to look, at best, a sad waste-and it is quite illogical that I should feel any regret or shame on my own account.
The Remains of the Day
Stevens believes his professional behavior shields him from any moral responsibility for the actions of his employer Lord Darlington who was a Nazi sympathiser and dies in disgrace. Day Three, Evening - Moscombe, near Tavistock, Devon.
However, if a butler is to be of any worth to anything or anybody in life, there must surely come a time when he ceases his searching; a time when he must say to himself: "This employer embodies all that I find noble and admirable. I will hereafter devote myself to him."
The Remains of the Day
Stevens. Day Three, Evening - Moscombe, near Tavistock, Devon.
People do have a political conscience of sorts here. They feel they ought to have strong feelings on this and that, just as Harry urges them to. But really, they’re no different from people anywhere. They want a quiet life. Harry has a lot of ideas about changes to this and that, but really, no one in the village wants upheaval, even if it might benefit them. People here want to be left alone to lead their quiet little lives. They don’t want to be bothered with this issue and that issue.
The Remains of the Day
Dr Carlisle. Day Four, Afternoon - Compton, Cornwall.
But that doesn't mean to say, of course, there aren't occasions now and then - extremely desolate occasions - when you think to yourself: "What a terrible mistake I've made with my life." And you get to thinking about a different life, a better life you might have had. For instance, I get to thinking about a life I may have had with you, Mr. Stevens. And I suppose that's when I get angry about some trivial little thing and leave. But each time I do, I realize before long - my rightful place is with my husband. After all, there's no turning back the clock now. One can't be forever dwelling on what might have been.
The Remains of the Day
Miss Kenton. Day Six, Evening - Weymouth.
Lord Darlington wasn’t a bad man. He wasn’t a bad man at all. And at least he had the privilege of being able to say at the end of his life that he made his own mistakes. His lordship was a courageous man. He chose a certain path in life, it proved to be a misguided one, but there, he chose it, he can say that at least. As for myself, I cannot even claim that. You see, I trusted. I trusted in his lordship’s wisdom. All those years I served him, I trusted I was doing something worthwhile. I can’t even say I made my own mistakes. Really - one has to ask oneself - what dignity is there in that?
The Remains of the Day
Stevens confesses to complete stranger, realizing the sad truth about his life spent in the pursuit of dignity. Day Six, Evening - Weymouth.
The evening's the best part of the day. You've done your day's work. Now you can put your feet up and enjoy it.
The Remains of the Day
Stranger's advice to Stevens. Day Six, Evening - Weymouth.
The Remains of the Day is a 1989 novel by Japanese-British author Kazuo Ishiguro. It won the Booker Prize for Best Fiction that year. Ishiguro was born in Japan on November 8, 1954.


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