Welcome to Bookmarker!

This is a personal project by @dellsystem. I built this to help me retain information from the books I'm reading. Currently can only be used by a single user (myself), but I plan to extend it to support multiple users eventually.

Source code on GitHub (MIT license).

28
1
terms
4
notes
Needs summary

Wood, J. (2012). Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go. In Wood, J. The Fun Stuff: And Other Essays. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, pp. 28-36

the theory and methodology of interpretation, especially the interpretation of biblical texts, wisdom literature, and philosophical texts

29

Ishiguro, as ever, is interested in far foggier hermeneutics

—p.29 by James Wood
notable
1 year, 5 months ago

Ishiguro, as ever, is interested in far foggier hermeneutics

—p.29 by James Wood
notable
1 year, 5 months ago
29

Works of fantasy or science fiction that also succeed in literary terms are hard to find, and are rightly to be treasured [...] And just as one is triumphantly sizing up this thin elite, one thinks correctively of that great fantasist Kafka, or even of Beckett, two writers who impress can be felt, perhaps surprisingly, on Kazuo Ishiugro's novel Never Let Me Go. And how about Borges, who so admired Wells? Or Gogol's 'The Nose'? Or The Double? Or Lord of the Flies? A genre that must make room for Kafka and Beckett and Dostoevsky is perhaps no longer a genre but merely a definition of writing successfully; in particular, a way of combining the fantastic and the realistic so that we can no longer separate them, and of making allegory earn its keep by becoming indistinguishable from narration itself.

love this

—p.29 by James Wood 1 year, 5 months ago

Works of fantasy or science fiction that also succeed in literary terms are hard to find, and are rightly to be treasured [...] And just as one is triumphantly sizing up this thin elite, one thinks correctively of that great fantasist Kafka, or even of Beckett, two writers who impress can be felt, perhaps surprisingly, on Kazuo Ishiugro's novel Never Let Me Go. And how about Borges, who so admired Wells? Or Gogol's 'The Nose'? Or The Double? Or Lord of the Flies? A genre that must make room for Kafka and Beckett and Dostoevsky is perhaps no longer a genre but merely a definition of writing successfully; in particular, a way of combining the fantastic and the realistic so that we can no longer separate them, and of making allegory earn its keep by becoming indistinguishable from narration itself.

love this

—p.29 by James Wood 1 year, 5 months ago
31

[...] her habit of addressing the reader as if the reader were the same as her--'I don't know how it was where you were, but at Hailsham . . .'--has a fragile pathos to it. She wants to be one of us, and in some way she assumes she is. The very dullness of these children, their lack of rebelliousness, even incuriousness, is what grounds the book's fantasy. They seem never to want to run away from their school, to throw over the commanded lives they must eventually lead. Full comprehension of who they are and why they were created makes them sad, but only resignedly so. This is the only reality they have ever known, and they are indeed creatures of habit. Ishiguro shakes this banality every so often, as the terribleness of what has been done emerges. [...]

this sets the stage for a note later on

—p.31 by James Wood 1 year, 5 months ago

[...] her habit of addressing the reader as if the reader were the same as her--'I don't know how it was where you were, but at Hailsham . . .'--has a fragile pathos to it. She wants to be one of us, and in some way she assumes she is. The very dullness of these children, their lack of rebelliousness, even incuriousness, is what grounds the book's fantasy. They seem never to want to run away from their school, to throw over the commanded lives they must eventually lead. Full comprehension of who they are and why they were created makes them sad, but only resignedly so. This is the only reality they have ever known, and they are indeed creatures of habit. Ishiguro shakes this banality every so often, as the terribleness of what has been done emerges. [...]

this sets the stage for a note later on

—p.31 by James Wood 1 year, 5 months ago
32

[...] Madame was afraid of us. But she was afraid of us in the same way someone might be afraid of spiders. We hadn't been ready for that. It had never occurred to us to wonder how we would feel, being seen like that, being the spiders.

this is brutal

—p.32 by Kazuo Ishiguro 1 year, 5 months ago

[...] Madame was afraid of us. But she was afraid of us in the same way someone might be afraid of spiders. We hadn't been ready for that. It had never occurred to us to wonder how we would feel, being seen like that, being the spiders.

this is brutal

—p.32 by Kazuo Ishiguro 1 year, 5 months ago
34

[...] For it is most powerful when most allegorical, and its allegorical power has to do with its picture of ordinary human life as in fact a culture of death. That is to say, Ishiguro's book is at its best when, by asking us to consider the futility of cloned lives, it forces us to consider the futility of our own. This is the moment at which Kathy's appeal to us--'I don't know how it was where you were, but at Hailsham . . .'--becomes double-edged. For what if we are more like Tommy and Kathy than we at first imagined? The cloned children are being educated at school for lives of perfect pointlessness, pointless because they will die before they can grasp their adulthood. Everything they do is dipped in futility, because the great pool of death awaits them. They possess individuality, and seem to enjoy it (they fall in love, they have sex, they read George Eliot), but that individuality is a mirage, a parody of liberty. Their lives have been written in advance, they are prevented and followed, in the words of The Book of Common Prayer. Their freedom is a tiny hemmed thing, their lives a vast stitch-up.

We begin the novel horrified by their difference from us and end it thoughtful about their similarity to us. After all, heredity writes a great deal of our destiny for us; and death soon enough makes us orphans, even if we were fortunate enough, unlike the children of Hailsham, not to start life in such deprivation. Without a belief in God, without metaphysical pattern and leaning, why should our lives not indeed be sentences of a kind, death sentences? Even with God? Well, God hath numbered thy kingdom and finished it: the writing may well be on the wall anyway. To be assured of death at twenty-five or so, as the Hailsham children are, seems to rob life of all its savour and purpose. But why do we persist in the idea that to be assured of death at seventy and eighty or ninety returns to life all its savour and purpose? Why is sheer longevity, if it most certainly ends in the same way as sheer brevity, accorded meaning, while sheer brevity is thought to lack it? The culture of life is not such a grand thing when seen through these narrow windows.

A++

—p.34 by James Wood 1 year, 5 months ago

[...] For it is most powerful when most allegorical, and its allegorical power has to do with its picture of ordinary human life as in fact a culture of death. That is to say, Ishiguro's book is at its best when, by asking us to consider the futility of cloned lives, it forces us to consider the futility of our own. This is the moment at which Kathy's appeal to us--'I don't know how it was where you were, but at Hailsham . . .'--becomes double-edged. For what if we are more like Tommy and Kathy than we at first imagined? The cloned children are being educated at school for lives of perfect pointlessness, pointless because they will die before they can grasp their adulthood. Everything they do is dipped in futility, because the great pool of death awaits them. They possess individuality, and seem to enjoy it (they fall in love, they have sex, they read George Eliot), but that individuality is a mirage, a parody of liberty. Their lives have been written in advance, they are prevented and followed, in the words of The Book of Common Prayer. Their freedom is a tiny hemmed thing, their lives a vast stitch-up.

We begin the novel horrified by their difference from us and end it thoughtful about their similarity to us. After all, heredity writes a great deal of our destiny for us; and death soon enough makes us orphans, even if we were fortunate enough, unlike the children of Hailsham, not to start life in such deprivation. Without a belief in God, without metaphysical pattern and leaning, why should our lives not indeed be sentences of a kind, death sentences? Even with God? Well, God hath numbered thy kingdom and finished it: the writing may well be on the wall anyway. To be assured of death at twenty-five or so, as the Hailsham children are, seems to rob life of all its savour and purpose. But why do we persist in the idea that to be assured of death at seventy and eighty or ninety returns to life all its savour and purpose? Why is sheer longevity, if it most certainly ends in the same way as sheer brevity, accorded meaning, while sheer brevity is thought to lack it? The culture of life is not such a grand thing when seen through these narrow windows.

A++

—p.34 by James Wood 1 year, 5 months ago