England, England

“‘Let me put it this way. You are our Official Historian. You are responsible, how can I put it, for our history. Do you follow?’
‘Clear as a b-ell, so far, my dear Jeff.’
‘Right. Well, the point of our history – and I stress the our – will be to make our guests, those buying what is for the moment referred to as Quality Leisure, feel better.’
‘Better. Ah, the old e-thical questions, what a snake-pit they are. Better. Meaning?’
‘Less ignorant.’
‘Precisely. That’s why I was a-ppointed, I assume.’
‘Max, you missed the verb.’
‘Which one?’
‘Feel. We want them to feel less ignorant. Whether they are or not is quite another matter, even outside our jurisdiction.’ Dr Max now had his thumbs stuck in the pockets of his taupe waistcoat, a gesture indicating to viewers humorous scepticism. Jeff would have happily hung the fellow out to dry, but he pressed on. ‘The point is that most people don’t want what you and your colleagues think of as history – the sort you get in books – because they don’t know how to deal with it. Personally, I’ve every sympathy. With them, that is. I’ve tried to read a few history books myself, and while I may not be clever enough to enroll in your classes, it seems to me that the main problem with them is this: they all assume you’ve read most of the other history books already. It’s a closed system. There’s nowhere to start. It’s like looking for the tag to unwrap a CD. You know that feeling? There’s a coloured strip running all the way round, and you can see what’s inside and you want to get at it, but the strip doesn’t seem to start anywhere no matter how many times you run your fingernail round it?’
Dr Max had taken out a little notebook and his silver propelling pencil was poised. ‘Do you mind if I a-ppropriate that? It’s frightfully good. The bit about the CD wrapper, I mean.’ He scribbled a note. ‘Yes? So?’
‘So we don’t threaten people. We don’t insult their ignorance. We deal in what they already understand. Perhaps we add a little more. But nothing unwelcomely major.’”

(pages 70-71)

Subject headings associated with the quotation

1. Intellectual life. 2. Knowledge, Sociology of, in literature. 3. History.

Bibliographic Description

Barnes, Julian, 1958- author
Text (visual) : unmediated
England, England / Julian Barnes. — London : Jonathan Cape, 1998.
266 pages ; 22 cm.
ISBN 0224052756

The Remains of the Day

“. . . . Then there was the question of what sorts of costume were appropriate on such a journey, and whether or not it was worth my while to invest in a new set of clothes. I am in the possession of a number of splendid suits, kindly passed on to me over the years by Lord Darlington himself, and by various guests who have stayed in this house and had reason to be pleased with the standard of service here. Many of these suits are, perhaps, too formal for the purposes of the proposed trip, or else rather old-fashioned these days. But then there is one lounge suit, passed on to me in 1931 or 1932 by Sir Edward Blair – practically brand new at the time and almost a perfect fit – which might well be appropriate for evenings in the lounge or dining room of any guest houses where I might lodge. What I do not possess, however is any suitable travelling clothes – that is to say, clothes in which I might be seen driving the car – unless I were to don the suit passed on by the young Lord Chalmers during the war, which despite being clearly too small for me, might be considered ideal in terms of tone. I calculated finally that my savings would be able to meet all the costs I might incur, and in addition, might stretch to the purchase of a new costume. I hope you do not think me unduly vain with regard to this last matter; it is just that one never knows when one might be obliged to give out that one is from Darlington Hall, and it is important that one be attired at such times in a manner worthy of one’s position.”
(pages 10-11)

Subject headings associated with the quotation.

1. Fashion

Bibliographic Description

Ishiguro, Kazuo, 1954- author
Text (visual) : unmediated
The Remains of the Day / Kazuo Ishiguro. — Vintage International Edition. — New York : Vintage Books, a division of Random House, 1993.
245 pages ; 21 cm.
Originally published in hardcover in Great Britain by Faber and Faber, and in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf, in 1989.
ISBN 0679731725