『长日将尽 | The Remains of the Day』，作者「石黒 一雄 Kazuo Ishiguro」。
我来抄一抄 Goodreads 上的介绍：
In the summer of 1956, Stevens, a long-serving butler at Darlington Hall, decides to take a motoring trip through the West Country. The six-day excursion becomes a journey into the past of Stevens and England, a past that takes in fascism, two world wars, and an unrealised love between the butler and his housekeeper.
这本书是以第一人称视角写的，石黑一雄写小说很喜欢从第一视角写，而且写得非常精确（真得写什么像什么），譬如这部书是以一位高级贵族的管家为视角写的，语言非常书面、正式、老派，作为小说无可挑剔。它大概分为两条线，一是两次世界大战之间英国上层社会的思考，二是 Stevens 本人的事业与情感。这两部分是高度统一的。
首先他作为管家服务于 Lord Darlington——当时英国非常显赫的贵族。Darlington 同情一战后作为战败国接受严格的凡尔赛条约的德国，发挥着自己的影响力，把自家豪宅作为了亲德势力的大本营和两国关系的缓冲带，同时因为他能直接接触到首相等人，德国外长可以通过他来绕开英国外事部门直接和英国首相等人接触。因为这个身份，他在二战被纳粹利用和欺骗，相信了纳粹作为缓兵之计的和平托词，积极促成了许多谈话，从结果上来说麻痹了英国高层对纳粹德国的野心的判断。他作为管家，经常能接触到各类政府要员，有意无意地也能听到许多对话，这就构成了文章的第一条线。
同时，他作为世代相承的非常有职业尊严的管家（他父亲也是一名管家，也在 Lord Darlington 服务），一直在思考、内化「管家 Butler」一词的含义。他在书中讲了许多真正的管家区别于混饭的管家的要素，其中很重要的一点是 Diginity，按我的理解来说就是职业尊严、是「泰山崩於前而色不變 麋鹿興於左而目不瞬」，哪怕在遭遇变故的时候，也要克制住自己，把当时职业要求该做的事做好。在他父亲去世的那天，他正在楼下忙着一次非常重要的会议的闭幕宴客席，他即使听到父亲的状态已经恶化，也只能抽空去阁楼的佣人房看他父亲一眼，没法陪伴最后一程，他相信他的父亲——作为传授他 Diginity 一词含义的老管家——也会理解他这样的行为的，他在为父亲逝去感到悲痛时同时也为自己的成长感到喜悦，因为那晚标志着他作为一位成熟管家的开始。克制、审慎，成为了他的职业道德、他的世界观，以及他的性格。这个性格也导致他与女管家 Kenton 的爱情擦肩而过，一方面是他认为自己必须要做好手头的事情，而且相信自己服务的是最能改变这个世界的人，自己这一微不足道的贡献也会对世界的和平有所作用；另一方面是他习惯了这样的思考、处事方式，所以从来都不敢温柔地面对自己和他人的情感，仍旧把一切、甚至把自己的生活都当作公务，要么做、要么不做，十分严肃。
先讲第一个方面，他认为英国议会中的很多决定，在成为法律上的定论以前，其实已经在这样或那样的贵族豪宅里经历过反复的讨论和确定。这个世界实质上是围绕着这些豪宅转动的，以这些豪宅为中心一圈一圈地辐射开去。而他作为这样一间豪宅的管家，做的是有尊严而且有益于世界的工作。这本回忆里讲了许多这方面的事。但同时因为他是个人的回忆录，我们会去想这其中有多少是真实的部分、有多少是他美化的部分。作为管家，他肯定会倾向于认为自己主人的言行是经过深思熟虑的，哪怕有时他也会对一些决定有所疑虑，但也会按照吩咐办事。譬如在辞退两个犹太籍女工时，他虽然找不出任何要这样做的理由，但还是这样做了，而女管家 Kenton 就完全不同，她甚至以辞职相要挟，虽然最后迫于生计和她自己的家庭原因她并没有辞职。Stevens 在后来回忆到，作出这件事时主人正在与另外一个反犹分子来往过密，受到了她的蒙骗。在这件事后他们的联系就淡了，在一年后，主人跟 Stevens 提到自己当时这样做是错误的，问他有没有什么方法找到那两位女工，要对她们做出赔偿，当然 Darlington 自己也知道这无异于大海捞针。Stevens 很快就把这件事分享给了 Kenton。我觉得他潜意识里还是想着为主人辩护、为自己的服务正名，以及他知道当时的行为是不对的。
这也涉及到他眼里的 Darlington，在他的回忆里他的主人是一位正统的英国贵族，为世界的发展与和平做出自己的一份力。只是时代变化的太快。“Today’s world is too foul a place for fine and noble instincts.” 他回忆里有一段 Darlington 对他说的话，这段话虽然只是一段普通的对话，但里面却能找到他对他主人的几乎全部看法：
“It really was quite dreadful. But you see, Stevens, Mr Spencer had a point to prove to Sir Leonard. In fact, if it’s any consolation, you did assist in demonstrating a very important point. Sir Leonard had been talking a lot of that old-fashioned nonsense. About the will of the people being the wisest arbitrator and so on. Would you believe it, Stevens?”
“We’re really so slow in this country to recognize when a thing’s outmoded. Other great nations know full well that to meet the challenges of each new age means discarding old, sometimes well-loved methods. Not so here in Britain. There’s still so many talking like Sir Leonard last night.
That’s why Mr Spencer felt the need to demonstrate his point. And I tell you, Stevens, if the likes of Sir Leonard are made to wake up and think a little, then you can take it from me your ordeal last night was not in vain.”
Lord Darlington gave another sigh. “We’re always the last, Stevens. Always the last to be clinging on to outmoded systems. But sooner or later, we’ll need to face up to the facts. Democracy is something for a bygone era.
The world’s far too complicated a place now for universal suffrage and such like. For endless members of parliament debating things to a standstill. All fine a few years ago, perhaps, but in today’s world? What was it Mr Spencer said last night? He put it rather well.”
“I believe, sir, he compared the present parliamentary system to a committee of the mothers’ union attempting to organize a war campaign.”
“Exactly, Stevens. We are, quite frankly, behind the times in this country. And it’s imperative that all forward-looking people impress this on the likes of Sir Leonard.”
“I ask you, Stevens. Here we are in the midst of a continuing crisis. I’ve seen it with my own eyes when I went north with Mr Whittaker. People are suffering. Ordinary, decent working people are suffering terribly. Germany and Italy have set their houses in order by acting. And so have the wretched Bolsheviks in their own way, one supposes.
Even President Roosevelt, look at him, he’s not afraid to take a few bold steps on behalf of his people. But look at us here, Stevens. Year after year goes by, and nothing gets better. All we do is argue and debate and procrastinate.
Any decent idea is amended to ineffectuality by the time it’s gone half-way through to the various committees it’s obliged to pass through. The few people qualified to know what’s what are talked to a standstill by ignorant people all around them. What do you make of it, Stevens?”
“The nation does seem to be in a regrettable condition, sir.”
“I’ll say. Look at Germany and Italy, Stevens. See what strong leadership can do if it’s allowed to act. None of this universal suffrage nonsense there. If your house is on fire, you don’t call the household into the drawing room and debate the various options for an escape for an hour, do you?
It may have been all very well once, but the world’s a complicated place now. The man in the street can’t be expected to know enough about politics, economics, world commerce and what have you. And why should he? In fact, you made a very good reply last night, Stevens. How did you put it? Something to the effect that it was not in your realm? Well, why should it be?”
The remains of the day，或许也可以用在这里吧，是旧贵族对旧时代的挽歌。也是 Stevens 作为管家对他过去工作的挽歌。虽然他在回忆中对他的主人会有许多美化行为，但是结果导向的指责也是无理的。或许一战后过于苛刻的条约也酝酿了二战。站在当时的有影响力的人，应当怎么做才是对的，这也很大程度取决于他们能接受到的信息、以及他们的生活经验。他在后来讲到主人的这些事时有写过：
“What can we ever gain in forever looking back and blaming ourselves if our lives have not turned out quite as we might have wished? The hard reality is, surely, that for the likes of you and I, there is little choice other than to leave our fate, ultimately, in the hands of those great gentlemen at the hub of this world who employ our services.
What is the point in worrying oneself too much about what one could or could not have done to control the course one’s life took? Surely it is enough that the likes of you and I at least try to make our small contribution count for something true and worthy.
And if some of us are prepared to sacrifice much in life in order to pursue such aspirations, surely that is in itself, whatever the outcome, cause for pride and contentment.”
“It is sometimes said that butlers only truly exist in England. Other countries, whatever title is actually used, have only manservants. I tend to believe this is true. Continentals are unable to be butlers because they are as a breed incapable of the emotional restraint which only the English race are capable of. Continentals - and by and large the Celts, as you will no doubt agree - are as a rule unable to control themselves in moments of a strong emotion, and are thus unable to maintain a professional demeanour other than in the least challenging of situations. If I may return to my earlier metaphor - you will excuse my putting it so coarsely - they are like a man who will, at the slightest provocation, tear off his suit and his shirt and run about screaming. In a word, “dignity” is beyond such persons. We English have an important advantage over foreigners in this respect and it is for this reason that when you think of a great butler, he is bound, almost by definition, to be an Englishman.”
“The English landscape at its finest—such as I saw this morning—possesses a quality that the landscapes of other nations, however more superficially dramatic, inevitably fail to possess. It is, I believe, a quality that will mark out the English landscape to any objective observer as the most deeply satisfying in the world, and this quality is probably best summed up by the term ‘greatness.’ … And yet what precisely is this greatness? … I would say that it is the very lack of obvious drama or spectacle that sets the beauty of our land apart. What is pertinent is the calmness of that beauty, its sense of restraint. It is as though the land knows of its own beauty, of its own greatness, and feels no need to shout it.“
职业道德和审美如此高度统一。这其实也从侧面说明了，他的性格、世界观、甚至是爱情观，都和他所讲的职业道德高度统一。他和 Kenton 小姐的擦肩而过的爱情，也是文章的一条重要线索，虽说故事是因他打算趁着这次外出的机会再邀请刚离婚而无处可去的 Kenton 回 Darlington 工作，虽然回忆里有不少他们两人交互的场景，但如我刚刚所说，这一切都只是他高度审慎的内心世界的一部分。我其实很难形容他们两人的关系，好像有什么又好像没什么，Kenton 小姐已经非常主动了，你个木脑瓜在干什么！他对 Kenton 肯定是有感情的，他当时不会承认，甚至觉得 Kenton 多次越界的行为让他感到尴尬和愤怒。但是等他已经现在这个年纪，再回忆时终于愿意稍微正式一点自己的情感时，他才写到：
“I do not think I responded immediately, for it took me a moment or two to fully digest these words of Miss Kenton. Moreover, as you might appreciate, their implications were such as to provoke a certain degree of sorrow within me. Indeed- why should I not admit it? - at that moment, my heart was breaking.”
他在年老以后一遍一遍地去思考为什么、从什么时候开始他和 Kenton 的关系开始恶化而看出来。我认为这或许是这样一类人表达爱意的唯一方式了。
“But what is the sense in forever speculating what might have happened had such and such a moment turned out differently? One could presumably drive oneself to distraction in this way. In any case, while it is all very well to talk of ‘turning points’, one can surely only recognize such moments in retrospect. Naturally, when one looks back to such instances today, they may indeed take the appearance of being crucial, precious moments in one’s life; but of course, at the time, this was not the impression one had. Rather, it was as though one had available a never-ending number of days, months, years in which to sort out the vagaries of one’s relationship with Miss Kenton; an infinite number of further opportunities in which to remedy the effect of this or that misunderstanding. There was surely nothing to indicate at the time that such evidently small incidents would render whole dreams forever irredeemable.”
其实看到最后的时候我也动了情，他在和偶遇的同事讲述自己的一些事情时不自觉地落了泪，我也落了泪。Stevens 和之前读的 『Stoner』里的 William Stoner 在某种意义上是挺像的，都为什么东西奉献了自己的一身，审慎、克制地生活着。并非说他们并没有情感，而是他们选择了讲自己的热情以某种可能别人很难理解的方式奉献了出来，甚至通过压抑自身情感的方式。
“The fact is, of course,’ I said after a while, ‘I gave my best to Lord Darlington. I gave him the very best I had to give, and now – well – I find I do not have a great deal more left to give.”
末了看到这样一位老人的自述，谁能不动容呢。哭了会后我又联想到自己，我在老去时是否也会对着陌生人发表这样寂寞的感慨呢，What do I expect? 一切都已经无可挽回了。毕竟一生已经过完，热情也已用尽，过无可过。听他讲这些的老人安慰他说：
“You’ve got to enjoy yourself. The evening’s the best part of the day. You’ve done your day’s work. Now you can put your feet up and enjoy it. That’s how I look at it. Ask anybody, they’ll all tell you. The evening’s the best part of the day.”
The evening’s the best part of the day. 长日将尽，暮色苍茫。