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The Remains of the Day is one of the most highly regarded post-war British novels. In 1989, the novel won the Booker Prize. It was included in a Guardian list of "Books you can't live without" and also in a 2009 "1000 novels everyone must read" list. The Economist has described the novel as Ishiguro's "most famous book". Ishiguro won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature for his novels. The Nobel committee wrote of him that "in novels of great emotional force, [he] has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world".
Historical context is a key aspect of Remains of the Day, and in this case, the novel takes place during the years leading up to World War II. Indeed, major sections of the novel consider Lord Darlington's response to various climaxes of the war - specifically the Treaty of Versailles, which he felt unfairly punished Germany and set out to ruin the country economically. The purpose of this historical context is to suggest that the main character Stevens had a front seat to major goings-on during this crisis in international affairs, while also symbolizing the deterioration of 'old Britain.'
Stevens is one of the most beloved characters in modern literature because his emotional arc is so clear. At the beginning of the novel, he is hopeful and anticipatory of a new adventure - one that he hopes will bring him personal fulfillment. By the end, he finds his dream quashed, and limps back to his old life to bear out the 'remains of his day.'