In making aesthetic performance and aesthetic education central to his dialectical evaluation of social democracy, Kazuo Ishiguro especially addresses teachers of culture. The Unconsoled and Never Let Me Go explore the position of art in European social-democratic society since 1945. To read these works in that historicist spirit (despite their nonrealist genre) is to identify social referents of central importance to their meanings. The city of The Unconsoled is typical of post–Cold War Europe in its emphasis on “culture,” in a world where civic mutuality coexists with economic inequality. The novel considers the relationship between the pianist Ryder's art and his apparent indifference to “deep-seated, intractable” social problems. Never Let Me Go explores the contradictions of the welfare state from the vantage point of a later neoliberal Britain: from here, despite those contradictions, the experiment of giving “clones” an aesthetic education can be seen to have had a progressive aspect.
Martin Ryle; Ishiguro's Diptych: Art and Social Democracy in The Unconsoled and Never Let Me Go. boundary 2 1 May 2017; 44 (2): 57–73. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01903659-3826627
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