In the inscription for Kazuo Ishiguro’s 2017 Nobel Prize for Literature, the committee announced it had chosen to give him the award because his novels had “uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world.” In this class, we will read nearly all of these novels, beginning with Ishiguro’s first, A Pale View of These Hills, and including An Artist of the Floating World, The Remains of the Day, When We Were Orphans, Never Let Me Go, and The Buried Giant, as well as his collection of stories, Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall. We will investigate Ishiguro’s constant reinvention of the novel, his approach to the confines of genre, and the ways in which Ishiguro has appropriated and subverted the notion of identity as subject. Throughout the term will also interrogate the ways in which Ishiguro has transformed the modern idea of the British novel, by analyzing his approach to race, gender identity, bio-ethics, and the long shadow of cultural memory. We will screen the film adaptations of his major work, and also consult his work as a screenwriter in The White Countess and The Saddest Music in the World. This is an advanced course intended for students with prior college-level coursework in literature.
Corequisites: Students are required to be in attendance at all Literature evenings and Poetry at Bennington events (most Wednesday evenings at 7:00pm).