Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Unconsoled: An Interdisciplinary AnalysisAmalia Călınescu
The study proposes a theoretical analysis of Kazuo Ishiguro’s fourth novel, using the storytelling forms proposed by Kurt Vonnegut, along with the Freudian and Jungian oneiric theories, in order to decide the Kafkaesque texture of the narrative. The protagonist Ryder can open secret portals to physical places in his past and can reconfigure his reality based on memories. Firstly, the study discusses the intertextual connection of The Unconsoled with Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five and Woolf’s Orlando: A Biography while treating its Kantian value according to the domino effect and the quantum principle of probability. The second part analyses Ishiguro’s dream techniques, in conjunction with concepts like the Pygmalion and Golem effects, the imposter syndrome, the tunnel memory and Kahneman’s system 1 and 2 of thinking, for explaining Ryder’s irrational doings. The last part examines Ryder’s cognitive dissonance, his lack of anagnorisis, as well as his flow of consciousness, as compared to Woolf ‘s Mrs. Dalloway and Joyce’s Odysseus. The protagonist’s need for mental decluttering and willpower is then explained through the Stoic principles in Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, as a way to strike a balance between creation and consumption, both in Ishiguro’s novel and in real life. The problems of the nameless European city are also interpreted from a game theoretical perspective, with the tragedy of the commons and the public goods game as examples of faulty cost-benefit relationships. Holistically speaking, the study highlights the meditative power of The Unconsoled, focusing on the narrative’s similitudes to the semantic-linguistic incomprehensibility of Joyce’s Finnegans Wake.