Kazuo Ishiguro’s Buried Giant as a Contemporary Revision of Medieval Tropes

  • Joanna BukowskaEmail author
Part of the Second Language Learning and Teaching book series (SLLT)


Kazuo Ishiguro’s latest novel, dealing with the role of memory in the construction of individual and collective identity and in the settling or perpetuation of conflicts between individuals and nations, takes as its setting the early medieval land of Britons and Saxons, where peace and happiness are extremely fragile and where the potentially destructive forces might be unleashed at any time. The paper examines the representation of the multicultural narrative world of The Buried Giant as a mixture of diverse medieval tropes, such as perilous journeys, quests, Arthurian characters, ogres and dragons. Kazuo Ishiguro rewrites these staple elements of medieval romances to create a vision, which though fantastic, mythical and historically distant, may be interpreted as reflecting the pressures and tensions faced by the contemporary world, which resembles a rich cultural tapestry, made up of divergent ethnic, religious, and historical backgrounds.


Kazuo ishiguro Medieval romance Quest Memory Intercultural relations 


  1. Alter, A. (2015, February 20). A new enchanted realm. The New York Times. The New York edition, p. 19.Google Scholar
  2. Artin, T. (1999). The allegory of adventure: An approach to Chrétien’s romances. In P. Meister (Ed.), Arthurian literature and Christianity (pp. 86–106). New York, NY: Garland.Google Scholar
  3. Baillie, J. & Matthews, S. (2010). History, memory and the construction of gender in a pale view of hills. In S. Matthews & S. Groes (Eds.), Kazuo Ishiguro. Contemporary critical perspectives (pp. 37–46). London, New Delhi, New York, Sydney: Continuum.Google Scholar
  4. Barron, W. R. J. (1987). English medieval romance. London, England, New York, NY: Longman.Google Scholar
  5. Cheng, C. (2010). The margin without centre: Kazuo Ishiguro. New York: Peter Lang AG.Google Scholar
  6. Cooper, H. (2004). The English romance in time: Transforming motifs from Geoffrey of Monmouth to the death of Shakespeare. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Eco, U. (1998). Faith in fakes. Travels in hyperreality. London, England: Vintage.Google Scholar
  8. Holland, T. (2015). The Buried Giant review: Kazuo Ishiguro ventures into Tolkien territory, The Guardian, March 4, 2015, available at:
  9. Hopley, C. (2015). Fantasy forged in an evanescent landscape. The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro. The Washington Times, April 2, 2015, available at:
  10. Ishiguro, K. (2015). The Buried Giant. Kindle edition.Google Scholar
  11. Matthews, S., & Groes, S. (2010). ‘Your words open windows for me’: The art of Kazuo Ishiguro. In S. Matthews & S. Groes (Eds.), Kazuo Ishiguro. Contemporary critical perspectives (pp. 1–8). London, New Delhi, New York, Sydney: Continuum.Google Scholar
  12. Murakami, H. (2010). On having a contemporary like Kazuo Ishiguro. Translated by T. Godson. In S. Matthews & S. Groes (Eds.), Kazuo Ishiguro. Contemporary critical perspectives (pp. vii–viii). London, New Delhi, New York, Sydney: Continuum.Google Scholar
  13. Putter, A. (1995). Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and French Arthurian romance. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  14. Sadowski, P. (1996). Knight on his quest: Symbolic patterns of transition in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Newark: University of Delaware Press—London, England: Associated University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Schmolke-Hasselmann, B. (1998). The evolution of Arthurian romance. The verse tradition from Chrétien to Froissart. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. (1972). J.A. Burrow (Ed.). London: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  17. Vance, E. (1987). From topic to tale. Logic and narrative in the middle ages. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  18. Wai-chew, S. (2010). Kazuo Ishiguro. New York, NY: Routledge.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Faculty of Pedagogy and Fine ArtsAdam Mickiewicz UniversityPoznańPoland

Personalised recommendations