“Stop … and Remember”: Memory and Ageing in Kazuo Ishiguro’s Novels

Open access

Abstract

This article foregrounds representations of ageing and memory within Kazuo Ishiguro’s novels, particularly Never Let Me Go (2005) and, the less critically considered, The Buried Giant (2015). While criticism and reviews touch upon themes of ageing, loneliness, and loss of bodily function, scholars are yet to reveal either the centrality of this to Ishiguro’s work or how this might speak to real-life questions surrounding ageing. Few readers of Never Let Me Go realise that in writing it Ishiguro’s guiding question was ‘how can I get young people to go through the experience of old people’? The arguments here seek to restore such authorly intentions to prominence.

Ishiguro is more interested in socio-cultural meanings of ageing than biologically impoverished memories: this article examines the shifting relationships Ishiguro presents between memory and age as regards what happens to the ways in which memories are valued, and how people might be valuable (or not) for their memories. Interdisciplinary with age studies and social gerontology, this article demonstrates how Ishiguro both contributes to, and contends with, socially constructed concepts of ageing. In refocusing Ishiguro criticism onto reminiscence rather than nostalgia, this article aims to put ageing firmly on the agenda of future research.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Akbar Arifa. “This Isle Is Full of Monsters.” Rev. of The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro. The Independent 26 Feb. 2015. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.

  • Attias-Donfut Claudine and François-Charles Wolff. “Generational Memory and Family Relationships.” The Cambridge Handbook of Age and Ageing. Ed. Malcolm L. Johnson. Cambridge: Cambridge UP 2005. 443-54.

  • Bedggood Daniel. “Kazuo Ishiguro: Alternate Histories.” The Contemporary British Novel Since 2005. Ed. James Acheson. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP 2017. 109-18.

  • Beedham Matthew. The Novels of Kazuo Ishiguro: A Reader’s Guide to Essential Criticism. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan 2010.

  • Bennett Caroline. “‘Cemeteries are no places for young people’: Children and Trauma in the Early Novels of Kazuo Ishiguro.” Kazuo Ishiguro: New Critical Visions of the Novels. Ed. Sebastian Groes and Barry Lewis. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan 2011. 82-92.

  • Bornat Joanna. “Listening to the Past: Reminiscence and Oral History.” The Cambridge Handbook of Age and Ageing. Ed. Malcolm L. Johnson. Cambridge: Cambridge UP 2005. 316-22.

  • Coleman Peter. “Reminiscence within the Study of Ageing: The Social Significance of Story.” Reminiscence Reviewed: Perspectives Evaluations Achievements. Ed. Joanna Bornat. Buckingham: Open UP 1994.

  • Dorling Danny. Injustice: Why Social Inequality Still Persists. Rev. ed. Bristol: Policy P 2015.

  • Drąg Wojciech. Revisiting Loss: Memory Trauma and Nostalgia in the Novels of Kazuo Ishiguro. Cambridge Scholars 2014.

  • Furst Lilian R. “Memory’s Fragile Power in Kazuo Ishiguro’s Remains of the Day and W. G. Sebald’s ‘Max Ferber.’” Contemporary Literature 48.4 (2007): 530-3. JSTOR. Web. 27 Apr. 2016.

  • Gaiman Neil and Kazuo Ishiguro. “‘Let’s talk about genre’: Neil Gaiman and Kazuo Ishiguro in conversation.” New Statesman 4 June 2015: n. pag. Web. 14 June 2016.

  • Gullette Margaret Morganroth. Aged by Culture. Chicago: U of Chicago P 2004.

  • Hartung Heike. “The Limits of Development? Narratives of Growing Up/Growing Old in Narrative.” Amerikastudien/American Studies 56.1 (2011): 45-66. Web. 13 May 2018.

  • Hepworth Mike. “‘The Changes and Chances of this Mortal Life’: Aspects of Ageing in the Fiction of Stanley Middleton.” Writing Old Age. Ed. Julia Johnson. London: Centre for Policy on Ageing 2004. 48-63.

  • Hepworth Mike. Stories of Ageing. Buckingham: Open UP 2000.

  • Hubble Nick and Philip Tew. Ageing Narrative and Identity: New Qualitative Social Research. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan 2013.

  • Hunnewell Susannah. “Kazuo Ishiguro The Art of Fiction No. 196.” The Paris Review 184 (Spring 2008): n. pag. Web. 23 Apr. 2016.

  • Ishiguro Kazuo. An Artist of the Floating World. 1986. London: Faber 2013.

  • Ishiguro Kazuo. The Buried Giant. London: Faber 2015.

  • Ishiguro Kazuo. “My Twentieth Century Evening – and Other Small Breakthroughs.” Nobel Prize. 1-16. 7 Dec. 2017. Web. 14 Dec. 2017.

  • Ishiguro Kazuo. Never Let Me Go. London: Faber 2005.

  • Ishiguro Kazuo. A Pale View of Hills. 1982. London: Faber 2005.

  • Ishiguro Kazuo. The Remains of the Day. 1989. London: Faber 1999.

  • Ishiguro Kazuo. The Unconsoled. 1995. London: Faber 1996.

  • Ishiguro Kazuo. When We Were Orphans. 2000. London: Faber 2001.

  • James David. “Artifice and Absorption: The Modesty of The Remains of the Day.Kazuo Ishiguro: Contemporary Critical Perspectives. Ed. Sean Matthews and Sebastian Groes. London: Continuum 2009. 54-66.

  • Johnson Julia. “Introduction.” Writing Old Age. Ed. Julia Johnson. London: Centre for Policy on Ageing 2004. 1-4.

  • King Jeannette. “Fiction as a Gerontological Resource: Norah Hoult’s There Were No Windows.” Ageing & Society. 29 (2009): 295-308. Cambridge Core. Web. 26 July 2018.

  • Lai-Ming Tammy Ho. “Forgetting the Past: Nineteen Thoughts on Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant and Chan Koonchung’s The Fat Years.” World Literature Today. 16 Sep. 2015: n. pag. Web. 24 June 2017.

  • Mangum Teresa. “Literary History as a Tool of Gerontology.” Handbook of the Humanities and Aging. 2nd ed. Ed. Thomas R. Cole Robert Kastenbaum and Ruth E. Ray. New York: Springer 2000.

  • Manthorpe Jill. “Ambivalence and Accommodation: The Fiction of Residential Care.” Writing Old Age. Ed. Julia Johnson. London: Centre for Policy on Ageing 2004. 23-37.

  • Maylor Elizabeth A. “Age-Related Changes in Memory.” The Cambridge Handbook of Age and Ageing. Ed. Malcolm L. Johnson. Cambridge: Cambridge UP 2005. 200-8.

  • Mars-Jones Adam. “Micro-Shock.” Rev. of The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro. London Review of Books 37.5 (5 Mar. 2015): 17-8.

  • Matthews Sean. “‘I’m Sorry I Can’t Say More’: An Interview with Kazuo Ishiguro.” Kazuo Ishiguro: Contemporary Critical Perspectives. Ed. Sean Matthews and Sebastian Groes. London: Continuum 2009. 114-25.

  • McDonald Keith. “Days of Past Futures: Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go as ‘Speculative Memoir.’” Biography 30.1 Life Writing and Science Fiction (2007): 74-83. JSTOR. Web. 27 Apr. 2016.

  • Messud Claire. “Love’s Body.” Rev. of Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. The Nation 16 May 2005: 28-31. 28 Apr. 2005. Web. 9 June 2016.

  • Mullan John. “Afterword: On First Reading Never Let Me Go.Kazuo Ishiguro: Contemporary Critical Perspectives. Ed. Sean Matthews and Sebastian Groes. London: Continuum 2009. 104-13.

  • Robbins Bruce. “Cruelty Is Bad: Banality and Proximity in Never Let Me Go.” NOVEL: A Forum on Fiction 40.3 Ishiguro’s Unknown Communities (2007): 289-302. JSTOR. Web. 27 Apr. 2016.

  • Rosen Gary. “What Would a Clone Say?” Rev. of Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. The New York Times Magazine 27 Nov. 2005: n. pag. Web. 5 July 2018.

  • Scurr Ruth. “The Facts of Life.” Rev. of Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. The Times Literary Supplement 5317. 5 Feb. 2005: 21-2. Web. 9 June 2016.

  • Shaffer Brian W. and Cynthia F. Wong eds. Conversations with Kazuo Ishiguro. Jackson: UP of Mississippi 2008.

  • Shaikh Narmeen. “Kazuo Ishiguro’s Interior Worlds.” Asia Source. Web. 22 Dec. 2016.

  • Simmons Leo W. The Role of the Aged in Primitive Society. New Haven: Yale UP 1945.

  • Sontag Susan. “The Double Standard of Aging.” The Saturday Review 23 Sept. 1972: 29-38.

  • Swift Graham. “An Interview with Kazuo Ishiguro.” BOMB 1 Oct. 1989: n. pag. Web. 7 June 2016.

  • Tait Theo. “A Sinister Harvest.” Rev. of Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. The Telegraph 13 Mar. 2005: n. pag. Web. 5 July 2018.

  • Teo Yugin. Kazuo Ishiguro and Memory. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan 2014.

  • Webster Jeffrey Dean. “Construction and Validation of the Reminiscence Functions Scale.” Journal of Gerontology 48.5 (1993): 256-62.

  • Whitehead Anne. “Writing with Care: Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go.” Contemporary Literature 52.1 (2011): 54-83. Project MUSE. Web. 19 Aug. 2016.

  • Wood James. “The Human Difference.” Rev. of Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. The New Republic 16 May 2005: 36-9. Web. 9 June 2016.

  • Woodward Kathleen. Telling Stories: Aging Reminiscence and the Life Review. Berkeley CA: Doreen B. Townsend Center for the Humanities 1997. 1-17. Print. Occasional Papers.

Search
Journal information
Impact Factor


SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.101

Metrics
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 432 432 55
PDF Downloads 574 574 86