Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

Eugenic Nostalgia: Self-Narration and Internalized Ableism in Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2020), 14, (4), 437–452.

Abstract

Rosemarie Garland-Thomson has recently argued that Ishiguro’s novel Never Let Me Go deconstructs ableism’s binary structure by postulating the existence of clone characters who occupy an abject position in a eugenic dystopia precisely because their genetically engineered, idealized able bodies exist to be used to “cure” the disabilities of others. The article builds on Garland-Thomson’s work, discussing the role of science fiction in Ishiguro’s book as a means to explore how ableist narratives contribute to cultural norms that enable an overt disciplining of disabled bodies that still occurs, despite it no longer being socially acceptable, and posits protagonist Kathy H.’s story as a narrative of disability identity that exposes the contradictory nature of a belief in the able body and its opposition to disability. Putatively able-bodied, Kathy narrates her experience of the world from a subject position that undermines a stable construction of the body within an ableist framework, ultimately showing these distinctions to be untenable. By discussing the role of first-person perspective in Ishiguro’s novel as a means to interrogate internalized cultural narratives that perpetuate ableist practices, the article examines how cultural notions of ability and disability function as terms that define through exclusion the citizen-subject in liberal democratic societies.

Access Token
£25.00
If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Works Cited

Bukatman, Scott. Terminal Identity: The Virtual Subject in Postmodern Science Fiction. Durham: Duke UP, 1993. Print. Google Scholar

Carroll, Rachel. “Imitations of Life: Cloning, Heterosexuality and the Human in Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go.” Journal of Gender Studies 19.1 (2010): 59-71. Print. Google Scholar

Csicsery-Ronay Jr., Istvan. The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction. Middletown: Wesleyan UP, 2008. Print. Google Scholar

Deleuze, Gilles. “Postscript on the Societies of Control.” October 59 (Winter 1992): 3-7. Print. Google Scholar

Foucault, Michel. The History of Sexuality: An Introduction. Vol 1. Trans. Robert Hurley. New York: Vintage Books, 1990. Print. Google Scholar

Garland-Thomson, Rosemarie. “Eugenic World Building and Disability: The Strange World of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go.” Journal of Medical Humanities 38.2 (2017): n.p. Print. Google Scholar

Hengeheld, Laura. The Body Problematic: Political Imagination in Kant and Foucault. University Park: Pennsylvania State UP, 2007. Print. Google Scholar

Ishiguro, Kazuo. Never Let Me Go. New York: Vintage Books, 2005. Print. Google Scholar

Jameson, Fredric. Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and other Science Fictions. New York and London: Verso, 2005. Print. Google Scholar

Kafer, Alison. Feminist, Queer, Crip. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2013. Print. Google Scholar

McRuer, Robert. Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability. New York: New York UP, 2006. Print. Google Scholar

Bukatman, Scott. Terminal Identity: The Virtual Subject in Postmodern Science Fiction. Durham: Duke UP, 1993. Print. Google Scholar

Carroll, Rachel. “Imitations of Life: Cloning, Heterosexuality and the Human in Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go.” Journal of Gender Studies 19.1 (2010): 59-71. Print. Google Scholar

Csicsery-Ronay Jr., Istvan. The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction. Middletown: Wesleyan UP, 2008. Print. Google Scholar

Deleuze, Gilles. “Postscript on the Societies of Control.” October 59 (Winter 1992): 3-7. Print. Google Scholar

Foucault, Michel. The History of Sexuality: An Introduction. Vol 1. Trans. Robert Hurley. New York: Vintage Books, 1990. Print. Google Scholar

Garland-Thomson, Rosemarie. “Eugenic World Building and Disability: The Strange World of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go.” Journal of Medical Humanities 38.2 (2017): n.p. Print. Google Scholar

Hengeheld, Laura. The Body Problematic: Political Imagination in Kant and Foucault. University Park: Pennsylvania State UP, 2007. Print. Google Scholar

Ishiguro, Kazuo. Never Let Me Go. New York: Vintage Books, 2005. Print. Google Scholar

Jameson, Fredric. Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and other Science Fictions. New York and London: Verso, 2005. Print. Google Scholar

Kafer, Alison. Feminist, Queer, Crip. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2013. Print. Google Scholar

McRuer, Robert. Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability. New York: New York UP, 2006. Print. Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Details

Author details

Kanyusik, Will