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Reconceiving Identity: Never Let Me Go

Reconceiving Identity: Never Let Me Go

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Reconceiving Identity: Never Let Me Go

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  1. Reconceiving Identity: Never Let Me Go HUM 2213: British and American Literature II Spring 2013 Dr. Perdigao April 19-22, 2013

  2. Origins • • Ishiguro born in Nagasaki, moved to England when five years old • Did not return to Japan for twenty-nine years • First novel, A Pale View of Hills (1982), largely set in Nagasaki • Second novel, An Artist of the Floating World (1986), set in England, won Whitbread award • Third novel, The Remains of the Day, (1989), won Booker Prize, solidifying international reputation; adapted into Merchant Ivory film starring Anthony Hopkins • The Unconsoled (1995): more than five hundred pages written in stream-of-consciousness •

  3. Origins • Followed by When We Were Orphans (2000) and Never Let Me Go (2005) • Influence of 19th century writers: Dostoevsky, Dickens, Austen, George Eliot, Charlotte Brontë, Wilkie Collins

  4. Framing • Coming of age story, bildungsroman and/or entwicklungsroman • Ideas about the future world • Doubling—doppelganger—of individuals, alternate reality • Science fiction vs. realism • Role of science and technology (The Giver?) • Postmodern world, sense of authenticity, fictionality • The sense of history: The Sense of an Ending and Never Let Me Go vs. Mrs. Dalloway, Beloved, and Netherland • Representation of postmodern society, identity: race, class, gender, sexual orientation • “Normalized,” “naturalized,” “socially constructed”

  5. The Limits of Memory • “Or maybe I’m remembering it wrong” (8) • “This was all a long time ago so I might have some of it wrong; but my memory of it is that my approaching Tommy that afternoon was part of a phase I was going through around that time—something to do with compulsively setting myself challenges—and I’d more or less forgotten about it when Tommy stopped me a few days later” (13). • “Thinking back now, I can see we were just at that age when we knew a few things about ourselves—about who we were, how we were different from our guardians, from the people outside—but hadn’t yet understood what any of it meant. I’m sure somewhere in your childhood, you too had an experience like ours that day; similar if not in the actual details, then inside, in the feelings” (36). • “I won’t be a carer any more come the end of the year, and though I’ve got a lot out of it, I have to admit I’ll welcome the chance to rest—to stop and think and remember” (37)

  6. Lost and Found • “For that reason, it’s a peaceful corner of England, rather nice. But it’s also something of a lost corner” (65). • Discover y of tape, Kathy’s reaction • “Then suddenly I felt a huge pleasure—and something else, something more complicated that threatened to make me burst into tears” (172). • Two tapes as “nostalgic” things to remember the past

  7. Creationism • Miss Lucy’s revelation about their futures (81) • “‘Listen, Tommy, your art, it is important. And not just because it’s evidence. But for your own sake. You’ll get a lot from it, just for yourself’” (108). • “‘She told Roy that things like pictures, poetry, all that kind of stuff, she said they revealed what you were like inside. She said they revealed your soul’” (175). • Essay—“just a bit of nostalgia to pass the time” (116) • “Because somewhere underneath, a part of us stayed like that: fearful of the world around us, and—no matter how much as we despised ourselves for it—unable quite to let each other go” (120). • “It never occurred to me that our lives, until then so closely interwoven, could unravel and separate over a thing like that” (197). • Denouement or climax?

  8. Historiography • “The basic idea behind the possibles theory was simple, and didn’t provoke much dispute. It went something like this. Since each of us was copied at some point from a normal person, there must be, before each of us, somewhere out there, a model getting on with his or her life. This meant, at least in theory, you’d be able to find the person you were modelled from. That’s why, when you were out there yourself—in the towns, shopping centres, transport cafés—you kept an eye out for ‘possibles’—the people who might have been the models for you and your friends” (139) • Tracking down model—see one’s future (140) • “dream futures” (142) • Prescribed, controlled reality, place of free will? • Ruth’s possible—in office from advertisement

  9. Historiography • Other theory, Ruth’s, about their models (166) • Kathy’s fear • Understanding their “nature”

  10. Staging • Three sections of novel: stages of childhood (Hailsham); Cottages (young adulthood); adulthood (donations, carer) • “completing”; Tommy’s fear of completing (279) • The closing of Hailsham, idea of what remains of the community (211) • “it was still there in both our memories” (211) • Question of “‘what’ll happen to all the students?’” (212) • Chrissie’s completion, Rodney’s response: Ruth: “‘Why would he know? . . . How could he possibly know what Chrissie would have felt? What she would have wanted? It wasn’t him on the table, trying to cling onto life. How would he know?’” (226). • Kathy not knowing, compared to Tommy and Ruth; exclusivity, interiority

  11. Double, double toil and trouble • “I don’t want to five the wrong idea about that period at the Kingsfield. A lot of it was really relaxed, almost idyllic” (237). • Gatsby? • The Square at Kingsfield: a “wasteland” • “‘It was just like detective stuff. The previous times, I’d sat there for over half an hour each go, and nothing, absolutely nothing. But something told me I’d be lucky this time’” (243). • The Sense of an Ending? • Following Madame, like Ruth’s possible: doubles in the text? • For Madame, idea of “what” they were (248) • Inner selves, souls (254) • “Poor creatures” (254)

  12. Answers • Miss Emily’s defense (256, 258) • History of clones (261) • Post-war development (262) • Changes in culture, change in attitudes toward the project • Sheltering from world (268): knowing vs. not knowing (Kathy and Tommy vs. Ruth) • Madame’s revelation about what she thought about Kathy dancing (272) • In a current, trying to hold on • Tony’s sense of water running backwards • Gatsby—against the current

  13. The Sense of Another Ending • Detritus at end—all of the pieces since childhood, losses accumulated • Great unrest?