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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 460

Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant took many readers by surprise upon its publication in 2015. A fantasy novel set in the Dark Ages and filled with ogres, disorienting mists, she-dragons, and spells is a more overt contribution to unreality than Ishiguro’s previous work in literary science fiction. Critics may have...

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Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant took many readers by surprise upon its publication in 2015. A fantasy novel set in the Dark Ages and filled with ogres, disorienting mists, she-dragons, and spells is a more overt contribution to unreality than Ishiguro’s previous work in literary science fiction. Critics may have a valid argument that the magical worldbuilding in The Buried Giant betrays the author’s trademark subtly, but there is little change thematically from Ishiguro’s recurring reflections on individual versus collective memory. Important quotes from the novel address how people choose to deal with time and trauma.

I’m wondering if without our memories, there’s nothing for it but for our love to fade and die (45).

Beatrice worries that by being unable to remember so many years of their shared past, their hearts will run dry like “raindrops still falling on us from the soaked leaves above, even though the sky itself long stopped raining.” She believes that it’s in both the small, treasured moments and the fierce quarrels that they’ve proved their love for one another. Axl tries to soothe his wife by saying they can make the memories come back if they go on the journey together.

When the hour’s too late for rescue, it’s still early enough for revenge (198).

When Master Edwin admits to a deception, Wistan forgives him and agrees to help him under one condition: Edwin must agree to hate all Britons, including those who treat him well, because even for those who “tempt our respect, even our love” cannot overcome the collective guilt of their people.

I beg you leave this place, and let Querig do her work a while longer. Another season or two, that’s the most she’ll last. Yet even that may be long enough for old wounds to heal for ever, and an eternal peace to hold among us. Look how she clings to life, sir! Be merciful and leave this place. Leave this country to rest in forgetfulness (232).

Gawain pleads with the travelers to leave the sick, sleeping dragon to live out her final days preserving the peace achieved through a spell of forgetfulness carried on her breath.

The giant, once buried, now stirs (238).

Wistan’s lack of a triumphant attitude surprises Beatrice and Axl. He explains that now Querig has been slain, forgetfulness will lift and the desire for justice and vengeance will follow. A part of Wistan has turned from the flames of hatred, he admits, but he knows that the buried giant—ancient grievances and man’s penchant for conquest—will awaken. Neighbors will soon turn on each other, and “the friendly bonds between us will prove as knots young girls make with the stems of small flowers.”

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