ISSN 2454-8537

International Journal of Humanities in Technical Education Vol: 3, Issue 2 – February - 2019 – ISSN 2454-8537

The Dilemma and Diasporas’ Direction in the Fictional World of Kazuo Ishiguro

Dr Lieutenant Hardeepsinh R Gohil, Assistant Professor, Gujarat College, Ahmedabad - Gujarat

I lived a beautiful childhood

A childhood not giveth onto anyone.

In God’s own garden

Was I raised

In his garden without a gardener to tend the garden

His garden was mine, and mine alone

God’s garden offered all

The waterfalls and rivers were my bathing place

And the finest fruit my nourishment

And above all was my teacher

His bookshelves, his Torah.

A blessed childhood

That now seems like

A cloud dissipating by a gust of wind (Yevarken, “Yaldutyafa” 33)

GadiYevarken’s poem “Yaldutyafa” (“A Beautiful Childhood”) depicts his childhood in the Ethiopian village as a heaven. As a young boy in that heaven, he walkedin God’s garden, bathed in rivers, ate fresh fruit, and every one of his expectations wasfulfilled effortlessly.On the surface the poem does not engage with the present directly, the end of it reveals the loss of paradise is a waning memory, gradually effacing itself as years pass. The reason is the there is a vast difference between past and the present. The metaphorical theme of the poem is concerned with the loss of the ‘paradise’. In geopolitical way many of the citizens of the world had to make compromise with such ‘paradise’ to settle ‘New World’.In terms of Stuart Hall, such a ‘New Mendelson-Maoz, Adia.“Diaspora and Homeland—Israel and Africa in Beta Israel's Hebrew Literature and Culture.” Research in African Literatures, vol. 44, no. 4, 2013, pp. 35–50. GadiYevarken’s poem “Yaldutyafa” (“A Beautiful Childhood”) depicts his childhood in the Ethiopian village as a heaven. As a young boy in that heaven, he walkedin God’s garden, bathed in rivers, ate fresh fruit, and every one of his expectations wasfulfilled effortlessly.On the surface the poem does not engage with the present directly, the end of it reveals the loss of paradise is a waning memory, gradually effacing itself as years pass. The reason is the there is a vast difference between past and the present. The metaphorical theme of the poem is concerned with the loss of the ‘paradise’. In geopolitical way many of the citizens of the world had to make compromise with such ‘paradise’ to settle ‘New World’.In terms of Stuart Hall, such a ‘New World is constituted for us as place, a narrative of displacement, that it gives rise so profoundly to a certain imaginary plenitude, recreating the endless desire to return to “lost origin” to be one again with mother.’

A writer, who has in real sense transcend all the barriers of nationality, Kazuo Ishiguro consistently caused revolution in the form of fiction. Being the citizen of Britain he never forgot his indebtedness towards his native country Japan. For Kazuo his ‘way of looking at the world’ his ‘artistic approach is Japanese’. (2017) It may be one of the significant reason why he could successfully attain the highest echelon of literary world. His major novels deal with, what Allan Bloom opined in Shakespeare’s Politics (1983), “common understanding of what is virtuous and vicious, noble and base”. The novels of Kazuo present it in very subtle ways.

The process of determining the relationship between politics and literature has been always considered as the ‘most problematic criterion, one that quickly lead to dilemma’ ( Jacques Ranciere, 2011). In case of evaluating the fictional world of Kazuo with a diasporic gaze would open up altogether new avenues of interpretations, especially to ‘position ourselves’ with ‘identity’ which lives by ‘hybridity’. His novels such as A Pale View of Hills (1982,)An Artist of the Floating World(1986),The Remains of the Day (1989) compels reader to reimagine the political upheaval between WWI and WWII. Artistically the representation of the background along with the development of events exhibits neve-ever talked about and suppressed reality behind the Allied Forces, European Politics, American shrewdness, German helplessness and the worst impact of the anti-Semitism. With the very ordinary narrator Stevens as a butler, Kazuo asks a question to the entire world, which we all would be having at end of our Day! The first person narrative technique with historical background bring us near to the form of diary writing.

With the help of interdisciplinary study of literature would try to evaluate the art and craft of the Nobel Prize winning novelist. It may open up altogether new avenue of literary evaluation when entire world is on the verge of WWIII. One can evaluate the Japanese literary tradition of the imaginative writing, contemporary Asian tradition of novel writing and significant aspects that reflects the presence of politics in the creative writing tradition. The multidimensional evaluation of the text would lead to the holistic approach to understand the message that the writer wants to convey through his fictional craftsmanship. Kazuo Ishiguro in more than one sense achieves the realistic depiction of the present world.

Hall, Stuart. Cultural Identity and Diaspora. accessed on 5-2-2019, 22:31 PM.

Bloom, Allan, Shakespear’s Politics, University of Chicago Press; Chicago, 2003, P.137.

Ranciere, Jacques, Politics of Literature, Polity Press; Cambridge, 2011, P. 5.

Japan and Its Influence upon Creative Thinking of Kazuo:-

It is difficult to maintain one’s own tradition intact on the foreign lands. The incident of Kazuo Ishiguro is one such rare example which exemplifies that even by being on the lands of Europe one can keep alive one’s own spirit of mother nation. He born in Nagasaki, Japan and due to his father’s profession was shifted to Britain at the age of five only. His parents took care of the matter that the spirit of Japan should not be erased from the heart of Kazuo. In 1989 at the time of discussing about the Japanese inheritance and its influence on his upbringing the writer himself mentioned that,

“ I am not entirely like English people because I’ve been brought up by Japanese parents in a Japanese-speaking home. My parents didn’t realise that we were going to stay in this country for long, they felt responsible for keeping me in touch with Japanese values. I do have a distinct background. I think differently, my perspectives are slightly different.

This ‘slightly different’ way of thinking helps in making what Stuart Hall calls ‘New World’, where ‘many cultural tributaries meet’. In a sense Japan is constantly alive in the writings of Kazuo Ishiguro in one way or the other. It may be this distinct heritage only that makes him unique in the echelon of world renowned writers.

On the other hand, if one observes the Japanese tradition of imaginative writings one can come to know that there are several aspects which might have influenced the creative world of Kazuo. If one observes the major aspects of Japanese writers from the international perspective, we find a kind of similarity with Kazuo. The majority of writings by Japanese writers such as Niwa, Ishigami, Nakamura, and Haseguwa are related to the Japanese suffering in the post war era. Most of their creations reveals a kind of reaction against American direction of Japanese life. The character of Mr. Lewis in the novel The Remains of the Day represents such aspect of ‘inconvenience’ and ‘engagingly informal’. His self-proclaimed role of Big Brother in the Conference organised at the Darligton Hall, efforts to win the confidence of Lord Darligton by mentioning about the United States that,

“…would always stand on the side of justice and didn’t mind admitting mistakes had been made at Versailles”

Swift, Graham(Fall 1989). “Kazuo Ishiguro”. BOMB.Retrieved 12 January 2012.

Hall, Stuart. Cultural Identity and Diaspora. accessed on 5-2-2019, 22:31 PM.

Ishiguro, Kazuo, The Remains of The Day, Faber and Faber; London, 1989, P. 89.

In a sense it had been considered by the narrative as an effort to win the confidence of his master Lord Darlington.

Among the other significant traits of the Japanese writers one can find the expression of utter horror of the war as well. Marika, a significant character of YaekoNogami’s fictional work Meiro reveals it in a unique way as,

Everywhere there are many women like myself – in China, Russia, Europe and America, and everyday their babies ask, ‘when will father return?’ they answer tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after the next day. So answering they wipe away their tears.

Along with these issues one can also observe their myopic and uncritical tendencies as far as Russian aims are concerned. At the same time, they reveal Japan’s need to get along with the other nations of Asia.

Literature and Delineation of Diaspora.

I was indignant; I demanded an explanation. Nothing happened. I burst apart. Now the fragments have been put together again by another self. - Frantz Fanon

The word diaspora derived from the Greek, the Jews demanded it after eviction from their motherland and subsequent worldwide spreading over the course of two millennia, beginning in the ancient world. These disseminated Jewish communities-in-exile preserve a collective memory of, and fierce devotion to, their original motherland, promising as their primary mission as a people and a culture to recapture and return to that motherland and to restore it to its former haven and opulence. To live in unending exile and crave for return outside the motherland is the crux of the Jewish diaspora. Similarly, that wish to return home from the diaspora has been fuelled by a disturbed relationship with host civilizations that cannot or will not accept them as social equivalents.GadiYevarken’s poem “Yaldutyafa” which has been quoted at the beginning of this paper tries to gives vent to his experience of Diaspora.

According to the trends of contemporary philosophers and Political theorists it is required to have shifted their attention more upon the imaginative literature. The reason is the best possible path that leads them to envision and understand every day issues of the public sphere more precisely. Benedict Anderson has rightly remarked about contemporary ‘communities’ in his Imagined Communities that they ‘are to be distinguished, not only by their falsity/genuineness, but by the style in which they are imagined’. It is ovious to state that more than theories of justice our day to day confrontation with state institutions, technology and the media have more Yamagiwa, Joseph, K. Pacific Affairs, Vol. 28, No. 3, Sep. 1955, P.255. Fanon, Frantz. Black Skin, White Masks, (London,1986), p. 109. Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Rise of Nationalism (London,1982) P 15. texture and opacity. Karen Michael in The Citizen’s Voice: Twentieth Century Politics and Literature rightly observes that,

“ Even the novels that do not seem to overtly ‘political’ can illuminate our situation as political subjects confronted with complex and opposing responsibilities.”

The relation between diaspora and literature is a kind of multilane freeway with traffic flowing easily from the both direction towards each other. It is obvious to believe that the literature produced in any of the country is the product of sociological and political factors. Moreover writer’s perception also gets shaped in such environment only. Conversely, on the other hand significant works of literature has major effects on society by setting up or demolishing taboos, conventions and prejudices. In a sense they contribute to the changes in values which in turn have brought about social and political changes. In case of our nation one can mention the name of Mahatma Gandhi, who brought the unprecedented change in both the diaspora as well as social life of India. Most of his movements were inspired by creative works. The epistolary communication between Gandhi and John Ruskin, Rabindranath Tagore, JaverchandMeghani are sufficient to mention the evidences. Gandhi himself acknowledged that his movement of Civil-Disobedience was influenced by the creative works of Henry David Thoreau. Most of such diasporic literature reflects such kinds of ‘hybridity’ of the ‘New World’.

Fictional World of Kazuo Ishiguro and Japanese diaspora.

In the contemporary times if any author has examined the human emotions from multiple dimensions so perfectly than he is Kazuo Ishiguro. Being a writer he has experimented utmost techniques and skills of fiction writing as a creative author. His creative world has imbibed the best possible qualities and questions of the present world at the same time suggested some significant solutions in subtle manners to be decided by the readers. In a sense he has allowed the environment to influence and influence the environment by his significant contributions. One can never pinpoint his side with one particular culture against the other one. Kazuo’s subtle depiction force readers to decide the concern for diaspora in their own perception.The highest jury for any literary prize, the jury for Nobel Prize observed for his contribution that with the help of his craft,

“ novels of great force, (he) has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world.”

Michael, Karen,The Citizen’s Voice: Twentieth Century Politics and Literature, University of Calgary Press; Calgary, 2003, P. 173.

“The Nobel Prize in Literature 2017 – Press Release”.Nobel Prize.Retrieved 5 October 2017.

Such ‘great force’ can be observed from his very first thesis cum novel, A Pale View of Hills(1982). The novel deals with Kazuo Ishiguro’s favourite subject. It deals with the life of Etsuko, a Japanes woman settled in England and pondering upon the recent suicide of her daughter named Niki. Revisiting her past she posits herself in post war Nagasaki and trying to rebuild her life after the war. Etsuko slips in the past of post war Nagasaki where she in the company of her friend tries to rebuild their lives. The very process of naming her daughter reveals the narrator’s protest against the past as,

“For paradoxically it was he(husband) who wanted to give her a Japanese name, and I – perhaps out of some selfish desire not to be reminded of the past – insisted on the English one.”

As one of his significant earlier works An Artist of The Floating World,(1986) winner of the Whitebread Book of the Year, and shortlisted for the Booker Prize, tells the story of the Japan of 1948, rebuilding her cities after disasters of WWII, forgetting the past focusing the future. The central character of the novel Masuji Ono, a well-known painter, must be enjoying his peaceful retirement life but it is difficult for him to bring himself out of dark shadows of the past. The memory of the past drags him in the rise of Japanese militarism at the time when new Japan was rebuilding itself. The narrator in a sense brings us near to the inner voice of the common Japanese who was fed up with the war and desperately searching for new dawn of development. The message is artistically conveyed through the voice of the Masuji as,

“Our nation, it seems, whatever mistakes it may have made in the past, has now another chance to make a better go of things. One can only wish these young people well.”

The optimism conversely reflects the detest of the war in the mind of the author as a concerned diasporic writer. Moving one step further Kazuo Ishiguro’s Booker Prize winning novel The Remains of the Day (1989) in more than one sense reveals the international interpretation of the War. The novel dexterously deals with the most difficult subject of war. Situated in the period between the two Wars(WWI and WWII) Britain, the novel ingeniously talks about the efforts of those who were honest enough to avoid the unavoidable and those who were very much interested in the another war. The high profile talks of Allied Forces, French and German officers along with an American shrewd from the vision of a small butler provides an impartial understanding of the event. As the outcome of the informal conference preceding the Swiss conference, which was going to decide the future war, Mr.Dupont, a French diplomat expresses his satisfaction against the views to relieve innocent Germans from the burden of the taxes (which ultimately caused the WWII) as, Ishiguro, Kazuo, A Pale View of Hills, Faber and Faber; London, 1982, P. 9. Ishiguro, Kazuo, An Artist of the Floating World, Faber and Faber; London, 1986, P. 206.

“I am happy to assure you all here that I will bring what modest influence I have to encourage certain changes of emphasis in French policy in accordance with much of what has been said here. And I will endeavour to do so in good time for the Swiss conference.”

Conversely, the anti-Semitic activities and animosity in the form of Lord Darlington himself and nefarious ‘blackshirts’ organisation opens up another picture of prevailing hatred in the society. As the obedient servant to master whom, he considers to be the best judge of the situation, Stevens reveals the ultimate gaol of a butler’s life as,

“There are certain members of our profession who would have it that it ultimately makes little difference what short of employer one serves; who believe that the sort of idealism prevalent amongst our generation – namely the notion that we butlers should aspire to serve those great gentlemen who further the cause of humanity.”

Such a genuine ‘cause of humanity’ of the diasporic writer makes the Kazuo Ishiguro one of the best living authors in any language of the world.

Thus, one can observe that with the help his novels be it is A Pale View of Hills, An Artist of the Floating World, or The Remains of The DayKazuo Ishiguro conveys his socio-political diasporic observation of his times in a dexterous way with the help of characters who belong to the very humble backgrounds. In this way Kazuo Ishiguro hits two birds with one stone: such as revealing the inner voice of the common man and revealing the common truth upon the issues that effects all, that is war. The noble way of dealing with one of the most significant calamities of human civilization wins him the most prestigious prize of humanity, the Nobel.

Ishiguro, Kazuo, The Remains of The Day, Faber and Faber; London, 1989, P. 104.

Ishiguro, Kazuo, The Remains of The Day, Faber and Faber; London, 1989, P. 147.