BOOKS: BAD DREAM

AFTER THE REMAINS OF THE DAY, A WEIRD NON SEQUITUR

KAZUO ISHIGURO'S THE REMAINS of the Day (1989) is an astonishing novel in several regards. Its narrator, an aging and obsessively punctilious butler named Stevens, sets out in 1956 on a motoring trip; he wants to persuade Miss Kenton, a former housekeeper at Darlington Hall, to come back and work for the house's new American owner. But as Stevens remembers the good old days, the 1930s, his dry reserve and matter-of-fact tone are threatened by a troubling perception: perhaps his devotion to Lord Darlington, later disgraced for having tried to appease the Nazis, was misplaced. Near the end, when he briefly...

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