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ID 45943
file
title alternative
Pseudo-Englishness in Never Let Me Go: a Reading and Viewing of the Novel and Heritage Film
creator
Kaneko, Yukio
NDC
English and American literature
abstract
Both the novel and the film, Never Let Me Go, depict the recognizable settings of Englishness, including the country house, the cottage, the NHS-like hospital, the seaside resort and the Norfolk countryside. However, a strange feeling possesses us when reading the novel or viewing the film, which prevents us from calling it a genuine novel of Englishness, or a genuine heritage film.
The purpose of this thesis is to identify why we feel a sense of ‘strangeness’ when we read the novel and view the film adaptation. I conclude that this feeling is produced by the pseudo-Englishness, which characterizes this work in both narrative formats. Both formats deepen our understanding of this pseudo-English world. Indeed, it is full of the images of Englishness, but as the main characters are clones, we cannot ask about their English identity, only about their ‘Hailshamness’. Thus, we cannot find any comfort in finding feelings of nostalgia for the English past in the story and in wishing to return to the classic English tradition. I discuss, first, the nature of the heritage film and a map representing Englishness, followed by the Hailsham boarding school, a cottage, a recovery centre and a stranded fishing boat, a seaside resort town and, lastly, the Norfolk countryside.
The heritage film deals with the heritage and identity of England, and the film’s key features are the past, the manners and proprieties of upper and upper middle-class English society, country houses, rolling green landscapes of southern England, period costume and canonical literary films. This genre was created when Thatcherism in the 1980s caused declining community bonds and social unrest.
Miss Emily, head guardian at Hailsham, teaches the clone students about the counties of England, using maps and a picture calendar. Picturesque villages, streams, and old churches, all suggest that this novel deals with the theme of Englishness. The film does not show us any such geographical scenes, but the total visual effect suggests the theme of Englishness.
The Hailsham boarding school is depicted as an English country house. Although it has generally been open to the surrounding local society, Hailsham is a closed world, which gives us a sense of ‘strangeness’. The students are forced to stay inside, and they do not have any family names; thus, they do not belong to any family pedigree. Quarterly Exchanges and monthly Sales emulate the economic system of the outside world, but such emulation is meaningless, as the clones maintain few contacts with the outside world during their short lives. What they acquired at the Exchanges and the Sales―their possessions―help the clones form individual identities and develop sense of belonging to Hailsham, (i.e. Hailshamness).
After Hailsham, they move to a cottage, which was formerly a farm house. The cottage, which evokes pastoral Englishness, is in fact a place of anxiety. Contrary to our expectations, we see a pseudo-pastoral world. No agrarian labour such as haymaking, harvesting, or milking is described, and sheep are not foregrounded. Food comes only from the outside. It is as if the clones are themselves like cattle. Deprived of reproductive abilities, they are inferior to cattle, resulting in no family pedigree and no heritage. Their failure to contact their possibles (originals) means that they cannot enter into normal human society and are doomed to confinement. Thus, the clones feel fear and unrest despite the superficial pleasantness of their pastoral life―this gives us a feeling of ‘strangeness’.
The story then moves from the Cottages to a hospital called the recovery centre, which aims to enable the clones to recovery after their donations. Seemingly a very English institution, this NHS-like institution is pseudo-English as medical welfare depends on the pathetic sacrifice of clones who are indistinct from human beings. They are like humans not only in their feelings but also in their memories. This is illustrated by a stranded fishing boat, which they visit and find beauty in since it is nothing other than a figure of the now-closed Hailsham.
Tommy and Kathy visit a seaside resort town―an English town that has been a place of middle-class wealth and a place to find leisure in since the 19th century―to see Miss Emily and Madame, and to ask for a deferral of donation by showing Tommy’s painting as proof of his soul. However, his request is not granted, and both are doomed. This sad fate is incompatible with the pleasant English image of a seaside resort, which leaves us with a feeling of strangeness.
The last scene is set in the English countryside of Norfolk. This final setting should be idyllic, but instead, it has an elegiac atmosphere, as it is like a graveyard for the clones, and Kathy is the only observer.
In conclusion, Norfolk serves as a home and graveyard for the clones. However, the fact that there is no photo of Norfolk in Miss Emily’s geography lesson suggests that the English do not want to accept clones as part of their society.
description
本稿は,日本英文学会中国四国支部第69回支部大会(2016年10月30日,愛媛大学)のシンポジウム「Kazuo Ishiguro 再考――さらなる解釈の可能性を求めて」において発表した原稿に加筆修正を加えたものである。
journal title
Hiroshima studies in English language and literature
volume
Volume 62
start page
73
end page
90
date of issued
2018-03-30
publisher
広島大学英文学会
issn
0288-2876
ncid
language
jpn
nii type
Departmental Bulletin Paper
HU type
Departmental Bulletin Papers
DCMI type
text
format
application/pdf
text version
publisher
rights
著作権は、執筆者本人と広島大学英文学会に帰属する
department
Graduate School of Letters
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