Robotic Narrative, Mindreading and Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun




Kazuo Ishiguro, Klara and the Sun, robotic narrative, artificial intelligence (AI), mindreading


Bringing into dialogue the theory of mindreading reformulated within cognitive narratology, this article offers an analysis of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun (2021). It argues that Ishiguro extends this theory beyond human minds to nonhuman minds and human-machine bonds to explore human minds as human essence. By examining an artificial-intelligence (AI) character-narrator’s struggle to read human minds through observation, this study draws two conclusions. Firstly, machines cannot comprehend entire human minds due to their complexity and variability. A mind encompasses not only an individual’s own intricate thoughts and emotions but also others’ diverse feelings about this individual. Secondly, both humans and machines engage in one-sided mindreading without eliciting reciprocal affective responses. This suggests that the limitations of robotic mindreading, coupled with human anthropocentrism, prevent the establishment of true human-machine intersubjectivity. By illustrating machines’ incapability to possess human minds through robotic narrative, Ishiguro offers a new perspective on the theory of mindreading, asserting the irreplaceable nature of human minds in the age of AI to prompt a reflection on the uniqueness of human minds, a realm that machines cannot replicate or transfer.


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How to Cite

Shang, Guanghui. 2024. “Robotic Narrative, Mindreading and Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun”. Journal of Literary Studies 40 (1):17 pages.
Received 2023-09-26
Accepted 2024-01-22
Published 2024-02-13