Kazuo Ishiguro in a Global Context

Kazuo Ishiguro in a Global Context

Bringing together an international group of scholars, this collection offers a fresh assessment of Kazuo Ishiguro’s evolving significance as a contemporary world author. The contributors take on a range of the aesthetic and philosophical themes that characterize Ishiguro’s work, including his exploration of the self, family, and community; his narrative constructions of time and space; and his assessments of the continuous and discontinuous forces of history, art, human psychology, and cultural formations. Significantly, the volume attends to Ishiguro’s own self-identification as an international writer who has at times expressed his uneasiness with being grouped together with British novelists of his generation. Taken together, these rich considerations of Ishiguro’s work attest to his stature as a writer who continues to fascinate cultural and textual critics from around the world.

Two-World Literature

Kazuo Ishiguro’s Early Novels

Two-World Literature

In this convincing and provocative study, Rebecca Suter aims to complicate our understanding of world literature by examining the creative and critical deployment of cultural stereotypes in the early novels of Kazuo Ishiguro. “World literature” has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years: Aamir Mufti called it the result of “one-world thinking,” the legacy of an imperial system of cultural mapping from a unified perspective. Suter views Ishiguro’s fiction as an important alternative to this paradigm. Born in Japan, raised in the United Kingdom, and translated into a broad range of languages, Ishiguro has throughout his career consciously used his multiple cultural positioning to produce texts that look at broad human concerns in a significantly different way. Through a close reading of his early narrative strategies, Suter explains how Ishiguro has been able to create a “two-world literature” that addresses universal human concerns and avoids the pitfalls of the single, Western-centric perspective of “one-world vision.” Setting his first two novels, A Pale View of Hills (1982) and An Artist of the Floating World (1986), in a Japan explicitly used as a metaphor enabled Ishiguro to parody and subvert Western stereotypes about Japan, and by extension challenge the universality of Western values. This subversion was amplified in his third novel, The Remains of the Day (1989), which is perfectly legible through both English and Japanese cultural paradigms. Building on this subversion of stereotypes, Ishiguro’s early work investigates the complex relationship between social conditioning and agency, showing how characters’ behavior is related to their cultural heritage but cannot be reduced to it. This approach lies at the core of the author’s compelling portrayal of human experience in more recent works, such as Never Let Me Go (2005) and The Buried Giant (2015), which earned Ishiguro a global audience and a Nobel Prize. Deprived of the easy explanations of one-world thinking, readers of Ishiguro’s two-world literature are forced to appreciate the complexity of the interrelation of individual and collective identity, personal and historical memory, and influence and agency to gain a more nuanced, “two-world appreciation” of human experience.

Conversations with Kazuo Ishiguro

Conversations with Kazuo Ishiguro

Nineteen interviews conducted over the past two decades on both sides of the Atlantic and beyond with the author of the Booker Prize-winning The Remains of the Day

Defoe and the Dutch

Places, Things, People

Defoe and the Dutch

The novels of Daniel Defoe are set in years during which two Anglo-Dutch wars were fought, a Dutch king took over the English throne, and the primacy of the Dutch in Northern European commerce was in the process of being overtaken by the English. At the time of these novels' publication, the geo-physical, political and cultural achievements of the United Provinces were still remarked upon as extraordinary, while so many people had travelled between the two countries that Dutch communities in England and English communities in the United Provinces were unremarkable. Defoe's personal, professional and political interests lay parallel and very close to stereotypically Dutch affairs, such as tolerance of dissenting Christianity, the promotion of trade as the source of a country's wealth, and Court Whig (specifically Williamite) interests. In spite of this, the many Dutch elements in his novels are not always evident, and the body of his fiction has not previously been examined from this perspective. Defoe and the Dutch: Places, People, Things explores what English readers of seventeenth and early eighteenth century English fiction and non-fiction knew about the Dutch, what images of the Dutch they were exposed to, and what significance these images may have had. Against that background, it investigates how Dutch elements are used or referred to in nine novels attributed to Daniel Defoe. From the ubiquity of Dutch ships and the Dutch bill of exchange to the disallowing of Dutch martial heroism and the exchange of gifts in Dutch weddings, images and associations of Dutch places, people and things in Defoe's novels are woven into the fabric of the narratives. The novels' uses of these and many other Dutch motifs or images are shown to avoid crude or negative stereotypes, and to be complex, subtle, and sensitive to the real-life events and contexts of the fictions, while also participating in a mode of representation that is overridingly emblematic.

The Edinburgh Companion to Twentieth-century Literatures in English

The Edinburgh Companion to Twentieth-century Literatures in English

This companion with a difference sets a controversial new agenda for literary-historical analysis. It cuts across familiar categories, focusing instead on literary events and texts which consitute 'landmarks' across the century.

Artists of the Floating World

Contemporary Writers Between Cultures

Artists of the Floating World

This work analyzes the fiction of four contemporary multicultural writers who render a 'floating world' in which cultures converge or collide in unexpected, exciting, and dangerous ways. The novels and short stories of Kazuo Ishiguro, Bessie Head, Bharati Mukherjee, and Salman Rushdie explore a literal and metaphorical floating world (adapted from the Japanese concept of 'ukiyo'-a still-point between briefly-held earthly pleasures and spiritual immutability) where the characters, like their authors, are poised between conflicting worlds, cultures, and traditions. The manner in which these four authors articulate such a 'floating' experience, Burton argues, enriches our understanding and appreciation of the increasingly interconnected world around us.

Betraying the Event

Constructions of Victimhood in Contemporary Cultures

Betraying the Event

In gaining an instrumental part, becoming a fashion, the victimhood theme has drawn attention to its fascinatory and manipulative aspects, and has asked for a critical reconsideration. This volume makes note of an attempt to sustain a conversation about changes in the ways the processes of victimization are written out and comprehended. The contributors aim to expose some recent instances and modalities of cultural and political constructions of victimhood in various parts of the world. Our concern with the overlapping areas of victimhood and rhetoric points to the ambiguous manner in which language and images thread their way into the critical discourses of today, and even devise a vicious reversal of the victimized/victimizer positions. Although we ask: can the victim's real ever be fully represented?, we keep holding on the simple assurance that only an attempt at representation of the real in an actual performance can bring us closer to the victimizing event, make us grasp its other contested constructions and foresee the materiality of the effects of its linguistic implications. We try to suggest a comparative approach that would link different experiences of victimization, possibly enabling a cognitive exchange, and emphasize the necessity of raising the writers' and readers' awareness of the narrative consequences of victimizing processes and the policies following on from them.

Kazuo Ishiguro

The Remains of the Day

Kazuo Ishiguro