Bernadette Meyler, Stanford Law School, is publishing Aesthetic Historiography: Allegory, Monument, and Oblivion in Kazuo Ishiguro's The Buried Giant in volume 2 of Critical Analysis of Law (2018). Here is the abstract.
This essay turns to Kazuo Ishiguro’s 2015 book The Buried Giant for insights into the moral and political implications of the kinds of historiography chosen in the aftermath of atrocity. The Buried Giant foregrounds monument, oblivion, and its own form, allegory, as historiographical strategies. If monuments aspire to bring the past into an eternal present, functioning as a kind of symbol, the novel indicates the impossibility of this goal. At the same time, it rejects oblivion’s efforts to entirely remove the traces of prior atrocities. The Buried Giant instead presents a version of allegory as an alternative mechanism for engaging with and negotiating a troubled inheritance. The allegory in question neither involves a one-to-one correspondence between events of the novel and national or international struggle, nor does it simply bring the reader from its particulars to a universal truth. It rather suggests a reciprocal reading of particulars through the windows they furnish upon each other, looking at medieval Britain as though through the lens of post-WWII Japan or examining England’s imperial past from the perspective of its prehistory in a time out of memory. This variety of allegory bears a family resemblance to that extolled by Walter Benjamin and Paul de Man, both of whom contrasted allegory with the symbol, and to Christopher Tomlins’s efforts to produce a Benjaminian historiography.Download the essay from SSRN at the link.