With his latest novel, The Buried Giant, Kazuo Ishiguro has written an intriguing and beguiling story line.
The framework begins with an aging couple, Axl and Beatrice. They have set out on a journey to find their son, who they haven’t seen in years. He lives in a village not too far from them. Within this composite, the elements of the story line are filled with myth, legend, fantasy, the firmness, or weakness, of memory, and the structure of community.
The name Axl means “father of peace”. A good point to remember in the story. Beatrice means “bringer of joy”, “guide”. Dante, himself infused a woman named Beatrice as a guide in his work, “Divine Comedy”. These definitions play an integral part in the story.
Memory is a predominant factor within the pages. We often choose to forget issues within our lives, issues too painful for us to cope with at a given moment. Eventually those issues can catch up to us, and our mind can slowly open up to reveal the past we tried hard to forget. Memory is also a part of the aging process, and often our ability to remember diminishes as we age. Fear of the loss of remembering can wreak havoc upon us.
Britons and Saxons are peacefully living side by side, due to the “fog of memory” thrust upon them. As time goes by, Axl and Beatrice begin to remember incidents and events from their past. Their memories are slowly awakened, as the memory fog subtly lifts. Is it due to their age, that their memories are unclear, or is it due to an unseen force put upon them?
Read the magical and mythical story yourself, in order to find the answer. Within the pages the reader is carried into a land of Arthurian composition. King Arthur’s nephew, Gawain, an old knight is one of the characters who Axl and Beatrice meet, along with a warrior and a young boy. They encounter dragons, sprites, ogres along their journey. The characters, intermingled with each other, present the reader with a masterfully written story line, leaving the reader to question many important issues.
The story line, in my opinion, is an allegory for humanity, humanity as individuals, couples, community, and as a part of the whole within villages, towns and countries. The allegory encompasses the customs, spirituality and cultures within the human condition, including superstition and how it is a life force for many.
The Buried Giant, in my opinion, is also metaphor for life’s memories and the fear and struggles endured through love and loss. Mass hysteria and/or a form of mass hypnosis or mass suggestion, superstition and spirituality, through fear, plays a major role within the pages. Pagan and Christian alike fear each other’s rituals, and that fear breeds irrational thoughts, and escalates hate.
I applaud Kazuo Ishiguro for his brilliance in structuring a storyline that is filled with minute details, details so vivid, the reader can see them before their eyes. I also praise him for giving the reader much food for thought regarding humanity and the human condition.