Sunday, August 06, 2006


Recently, as I said, I reread The Remains of the Day: twice, in fact. And while it's a very good book indeed, I think that Never Let Me Go is a better and richer book, though I'm probably in the minority on this. Compared to Never Let Me Go, The Remains of the Day feels schematic, almost like a morality tale: Stevens abdicated his moral judgment and refused to acknowledge his feelings for Miss Kenton, so he ended up wasting his life. You can't draw such simple lessons from Never Let Me Go. Moreover, The Remains of the Day is essentially a one-character book. Stevens describes everything and everyone with such a narrow focus that we never really get a sense even of Miss Kenton as a character in her own right, something that's not true of Never Let Me Go. And while The Remains of the Day has been widely, and rightfully, praised for its use of unreliable narration, once you catch on to the trick of this narration it's almost too obvious: whatever Stevens denies or disavows will turn out to be true. Above all, though, I found Never Let Me Go more powerful emotionally.

(And I haven't forgotten that I promised a second post on Never Let Me Go way back when. I still intend to write one eventually.)

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