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Serving His LordIshiguro and Devotional Addiction

Serving His LordIshiguro and Devotional Addiction This essay considers devotional addiction in Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day. The novel tells the story of Mr. Stevens, a constant English butler in a rapidly changing world. Having spent his best years in service to Lord Darlington, he must adjust to an American employer, someone untethered to the traditions that have ruled life at Darlington Hall. Told in the form of a travel journal, covering a span of six days in 1956, the journey is an inner one at heart, an extended bout of self-reflection, with Mr. Stevens thinking about his calling as he has never done before. In the end, how clearly he sees himself and his vocation remains an open question, but careful consideration of his story can illuminate vital details about dedication—addiction in the sense of steadfast devotion. Specifically, the novel explores how Mr. Stevens is embodied by his vocation, having become what he does in a world where professional butlers revere their station and its duties. Unlike external addictions, like drugs or alcohol, devotional addictions cultivate and ultimately constitute a self in ways resistant to changing course at will. In the case of Stevens, the self gathers around a calling that can only be jettisoned at the risk of implosion. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png English Language Notes Duke University Press

Serving His LordIshiguro and Devotional Addiction

English Language Notes , Volume 60 (1) – Apr 1, 2022

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Copyright
Copyright © 2022 Regents of the University of Colorado
ISSN
0013-8282
eISSN
2573-3575
DOI
10.1215/00138282-9560276
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This essay considers devotional addiction in Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day. The novel tells the story of Mr. Stevens, a constant English butler in a rapidly changing world. Having spent his best years in service to Lord Darlington, he must adjust to an American employer, someone untethered to the traditions that have ruled life at Darlington Hall. Told in the form of a travel journal, covering a span of six days in 1956, the journey is an inner one at heart, an extended bout of self-reflection, with Mr. Stevens thinking about his calling as he has never done before. In the end, how clearly he sees himself and his vocation remains an open question, but careful consideration of his story can illuminate vital details about dedication—addiction in the sense of steadfast devotion. Specifically, the novel explores how Mr. Stevens is embodied by his vocation, having become what he does in a world where professional butlers revere their station and its duties. Unlike external addictions, like drugs or alcohol, devotional addictions cultivate and ultimately constitute a self in ways resistant to changing course at will. In the case of Stevens, the self gathers around a calling that can only be jettisoned at the risk of implosion.

Journal

English Language NotesDuke University Press

Published: Apr 1, 2022

References