Foreign Literature Studies ›› 2022, Vol. 44 ›› Issue (1): 13-27.

• Dialogue between Chinese and Foreign Scholars: Kazuo Ishiguro Studies (Section leader: Shang Biwu) • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Nothing New under the Sun: Planned Obsolescence in Ishiguro's Klara and the Sun

Adam Parkes   

  • Online:2022-02-25 Published:2022-04-29
  • About author:Adam Parkes is Professor of English at the University of Georgia in the USA. His publications include A Sense of Shock: The Impact of Impressionism on Modern British and Irish Writing (2011) and Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day: A Reader's Guide (2001), as well as a recent article on Never Let Me Go in Modern Fiction Studies (2021). A new monograph, titled Modernism and the Aristocracy: Monsters of English Privilege, is under contract with Oxford University Press. Email:

Abstract: In this article, I argue that Kazuo Ishiguro's Klara and the Sun (2021) reveals obsolescence to be a central preoccupation of his fiction. Further, I contend, obsolescence not only furnishes Ishiguro's novels with content but also informs their narrative structures and language. A brief look at his two early novels, An Artist of the Floating World (1986) and The Remains of the Day (1989), shows how their narrators are overtaken by the unplanned obsolescence that results from realignments of imperial systems in the time of postwar capitalism. But in Klara and the Sun, as in Never Let Me Go (2005), the obsolescence experienced by Ishiguro's narrators is planned, that is, it is the fully expected outcome of contemporary social systems run on technocratic lines. After exploring, in detail, the formal and stylistic means by which Klara and the Sun articulates its overarching theme, I suggest that Ishiguro's new book encourages us to ask searching questions about the state and status of the novel as a literary genre in a 21st-century culture of planned obsolescence: the means by which capitalism generates, sustains, and even expands consumer demand by producing commodities that, sooner or later, must be replaced or updated.

Key words: Ishiguro, Klara and the Sun, obsolescence, technocracy, capitalism

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