It has to be said that we do not often feature grouse-beaters on royal estates on these pages. We’ve not had many references to community workers in socially-deprived areas. Even jazz lyricists are few and far between.
But this week, it is time for all three, in one person, who we have in fact featured previously. It may surprise you that the person concerned is novelist Kazuo Ishiguro. His most recent novel, Klara and the Sun, was discussed a couple of years ago. While The Remains of the Day remains his most famous and widely studied novel, it is certainly worth exploring more widely. The novel he published before Remains is a subtle masterpiece, as an elderly Japanese artist considers his current faded reputation. In The Artist of the Floating World the narrator’s musings gradually reveal his role in the radical nationalism which led to Japan’s role in the Second World War. His memories are uncertain, he may be avoiding certain truths, but he eventually has to face his responsibilities.
There are clear links of concern with the past and with responsibility which this novel shares with The Remains of the Day and Ishiguro once said himself that he thought his first three books were all different versions of the same central idea. Since then his work has varied widely, though time has always played a key role – whether attempting to stretch mortality for some by creating clones with no real future in Never Let Me Go, or recreating an ancient historic past to explore the effects of memory in The Buried Giant.
For an introduction to Ishiguro’s novels, read this article from The Guardian.
Ishiguro was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2017 and the Nobel site has an interesting article about him, which includes his thoughtful and revealing acceptance speech, where he talks about his mixed Japanese and English background, his inspirations and his early ambitions. Here is the webpage, and here is the lecture:
In other, more depressing news, Amanda Gorman’s inspirational inauguration poem, has been withdrawn from a Florida school because, apparently, it promotes hate.