The Romans have long since departed, and Britain is steadily declining into ruin. But at least the wars that once ravaged the country have ceased.
Buried Giant begins as a couple, Axl and Beatrice, set off across a
troubled land of mist and rain in the hope of finding a son they have
not seen for years. They expect to face many hazards—some strange and
other-worldly—but they cannot yet foresee how their journey will reveal
to them dark and forgotten corners of their love for one another.
savage, often intensely moving, Kazuo Ishiguro’s first novel in a
decade is about lost memories, love, revenge and war.
This is only my second Ishiguro novel, the first being Never
Let Me Go. I was intrigued at the repetition of one theme, that of
needing to prove your love for someone. In NLMG, the cloned couple,
Cathy and Tommy, believe that if they can just prove that they are
really in love that they will be spared from the early death of having
to supply organs to “real” people. In The Buried Giant, the elderly
couple, Beatrice and Axl, believe that they must prove their love in
order to pass over together to a (magical) island.
I was also
intrigued with the theme of forgetfulness in The Buried Giant—the
suggestion that we can only have peace if we forget all the events that
we might hold against others. Is it easier to love someone if you cannot
remember your past conflicts? And is that relationship worth losing
your memory of all the positive events in your life too? The same
questions apply to nations as well—would it be worth forgetting your
history in order to achieve peace with your neighbours?
I work in
the museum field which celebrates history, so I cannot advocate
forgetfulness. In my opinion, it’s just as well that the magic available
in The Buried Giant is unavailable in our world. We are made up of both
the positive and negative events that have happened to us—even the
painful ones contribute to who we become and help us to develop
character. I wouldn't be myself without ALL of my memories.