Ottobre 2015 – The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

title : The Buried Giant 

author : Kazuo Ishiguro 

pages : 345

Publisher : Faber&Faber Limited (Bloomsbury House) , 2015 

language : english

official website :

The Buried Giant is surely a slow reading, the costant flashbacks making it a bit frustrating. But it is also very cinematographic, in some way, and for sure it has a deep meaning below the apparently simple story. I love the references to the Arthurian cycle and to the history of Britons and Saxons; also, but I could be wrong, I think that the elements of magic that show themselves among the pages, are only a means for encoding the metaphors contained herein. Very profound in his thoughts, The Buried Giant is like a river, with a calm but misty surface. I find myself confused most of the time, like the memory loss of its characters, was affecting me as well, and I’m led to think that this is a desired effect of Ishiguro. Memory is the theme of the book. And of memory that affects the love we feel for each other, or the hostility, the ferocious hate between two enemy. Kazuo Ishiguro clearly has asked himself, it is really so bad to forget? And what harm could come to us in retrieving our lost memories? The suspence is quite often mitigated by wise and polite dialogs between the scene’s counterparts, like a strong wind meeting the obstacle of a high, peaceful and ancient mountain. But it is not easily explained by the age of three protagonists, Axl and Beatrice and Sir Gawain ? The old age and the memory loss together contribute in this strange rarefied and calm atmosphere that envelops the book, upon which Wistan, Edwin, the she-dragon and some unexpected events burst in. Near to the last chapters the order and the politeness of the dialogues is disrupted, they become more and more agitated and anxious, especially the crazy monologues of Gawain : this is clearly the effect of regaining the memory, little by little, with new fears tugging the mind. The fear of the judgment, and of the feelings of their dears, above all. What if the regained memories mutate the love in hate ?
Then there are the metaphors. Who’s really the Giant? What represent the island and the boatman? What it is the real meaning of that candle, so dear to Beatrice ? The questions are many, and the answers are not easily found. But this is the most precious thing about this book, I thinK. It makes you reflect. It stings the reader with worries whom should belong to older people, but that sometimes can be a trouble for the youngest, too.
I cringe to the idea of giving a rating to this piece of pure literature, but I liked it very much, and I want to leave a mark of this discordant impression in the statistic. So, 4 stars well earned, Ishiguro ! [this review is also avalaible in my Goodreads profile]


  • Identity = Memory, this crux is important also in another special book I’m reading, S. by JJ Abrams and Doug Dorst. I will talk about it, and I hope to do so, very soon.
  • The Metaphores (spoiler alert, don’t read if you fear them!) : island & boatman : the life after death. The boatman for me is the ferryman of souls. This is why when some characters approach the final moments, they ask for water, the water of a river, of a lake or even the water of the sea. // the buried giant : the enormous amount of wartime memory, that while “buried”, forgotten, prevents the saxons and the britons from seek for vengeance. // the trial of the boatman : a process to the identity and the love of a couple. It’s ” a foolish ritual”, a mere “tradition”, but I think it serves well to prove that, no matter how well you remember the past, your truer feelings will shown up at the end.//the candle : at the beginnings of the story, we come to know that the only candle of Axl and Beatrice was taken away. They cannot see each other during the long nights, they are reduced to talk in the darkness. Why the candle was taken away? Why they have been isolated by the others ? Why they felt to be no more respected and cared for ? No more useful for the village, too old for do anything at all, (they works, but it seems that nobody notices it or remembers) ? The candle is the memory itsself, a metaphor meaning that without memory we cannot see clearly ? And maybe it’s a privilege for the younger, for the leaders, in Ishiguro’s thought ?


I am thinking about the end of this book. About what Axl represent for the story. I loved the strenght and the determination, even the stubborness of Beatrice, but I think the real hero is Axl. Something about his final decision tells me more that everything else. He remains a little longer for a sense of duty? Because he feel he can do something about the incoming war? I think this is his reason. Maybe he does it for Edwin, and the boys and the girls like him. His sacrifice at the end makes him my favourite character, and I think it to be the most brave action taken in all the book by someone. I felt instead pity for Querig. And even for Wistan. He defeated Gawain, but Gawain, in my point of view, have won something more precious, the peace.

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[a presto con la traduzione italiana !]




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