the english patient Effortless English: Learn To Speak English Like A Native English Through Pictures, Book 1 and A Second Workbook of English. Also by Michael Ondaatje · The Cat's Table. Divisadero. Vintage Ondaatje. The Conversations. Anil's Ghost. See all books by Michael Ondaatje. postmodern novel like Ondaatje's The English Patient, characterised by a . Saul Zaentz the following day to suggest he read the book, which he did, and loved.

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And at the center of his labyrinth lies the English patient, nameless and hideously rescue, and betrayal illuminate this book like flashes of heat lightning. The English Patient is a novel which richly encapsulates the past within its folds. The Ondaatje's novel is similar in its structure to Almásy's book. He takes. Editorial Reviews. Review. Haunting and harrowing, as beautiful as it is A book that binds readers of great literature, The English Patient garnered the Booker Prize for author Ondaatje. The poet and novelist has also written In.

Yes and no. Yes in the sense it is this and much more, no in the sense it is not just this but much more. There is the film, or the movie, and the novel with its various readings, and the two are quite different. Without wishing to denigrate, the movie - meant to move large audiences and fully succeeding in this - was, to quote a very young critic, a standard Oscar-winning one, with breathtaking desert scenes and heartbreaking love.

It was technically impeccable, almost too good to be true, and this was its only fault - its faultlessness, its ultimately being kitsch. The novel had been turned into a typical high-class Hollywood love story, the story of Katharine and Almasy, above all.

In circumstances where video versions of films are not so easily accessible, watching a film is still very much a linear affair no rewinds, replays, stops, gaps , determined by somebody earlier on-the script-writer, the director, the technician, the censor.

I should especially stress the role of the latter in what used to be the Soviet Union, which is where I myself come from - all films, especially the ones that came from the West, were censored, sometimes very drastically. Also, the temporal, or call it historical, sequence of films was turned upside down - Lawrence of Arabia shown later than The English Patient, for example.

With books things were more complicated in the Soviet days. That made it most convenient for the communist party. The inconvenience, however, lay in the fact that there were libraries, and especially, private libraries, and the fact that the so-called Free World was still there, although temporarily, getting ripe for the World Revolution, hence its demise.

Until then, however, one could still get hold of books, there existed several illicit ways of getting and spreading and reading and translating books - with risks involved, but that made it even more desirable.

Reading was dangerous, it still is, in a figurative sense, but this is beside the point here. It thus often happened that you could get a book for just one night and could read, say, just the first part of it, and a friend read the rest of it.

Incidentally, Canadian literature is not well known in Estonia, nor is Ondaatje, and the fact that this film was based on a novel of his most probably went unnoticed. However, the book itself appeared this summer in some of the expensive bookstores but I had read it previously and made copies of certain meaningful pages unlawfully, I am afraid that I had some real difficulty in putting together again when preparing this paper at home.

But returning to absence which we have agreed is present, what is absent then? Critics and readers alike cannot fail to notice this particular reluctance to first give the names of characters which somehow emphasizes the very significance of those. The lack and mystery of the name of the Patient is central here, of course, but it is also true of the names of the others-Hana goes nameless until Caravaggio what a name makes his appearance, having earlier concealed his own name too while in a military hospital in Rome, writing out his serial number only v.

The moment the name is uttered for the first time is decisive, but it is constantly postponed, which makes the first naming of it ever more meaningful, fatal, sometimes. Would that which we call a rose indeed by any other name smell as sweet?

We think in the language by giving names to things. Naming brings things into existence.

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This naming does not hand out titles, it does not apply terms, but it calls into the word. The naming calls. Calling brings closer what it calls.

But even so the call does not wrest what it calls away from remoteness, in which it is kept by the calling there. The calling calls into itself and therefore always here and there-here into presence, there into absence.

The four are united primally in being toward one another, a fourfold. The things let the fourfold of the four stay with them. This gathering, assemlbing, letting-stay is the thinging of things. The unitary fourfold of sky and earth, mortals and divinities, which is stayed in the thinging of things, we call-the world. You think this is a virtue. Erase the family name!

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Erase nations! I was taught such things by the desert. On that dry watercourse, on this shingled knoll. He even wanted a tribe to take his name, and spent a year on the negotiations.

Then Bauchan outdid him, having a type of sand dune named after him. Finally, there is Kip, a Sikh bomb disposal expert who becomes Hana's lover and the patient's admirer and friend.

The English Patient

The character of the English patient may be sophisticated, adult and troubled, but there's plenty of Indiana Jones in his archaeological discoveries, incredible journeys, wartime intrigues, and even the accident that spills him from his plane wearing "an antlered hat of fire".

Then there's Caravaggio's thieving and spying, Kip's bomb disposal and Hana the beautiful nurse This is a book imbued with the spirit of Boys' Own Adventure. It makes sense that it made such a good film — even if the most impressive feature of the book, Ondaatje's prose, can't be caught on celluloid.

Much has been said about the richness of Ondaatje's writing, the sensuousness of his physical descriptions and his poet's gift for using well-timed silences and ellipses to speak volumes. All that's true. But the thing that impressed me most as I read the book this time around is its hard centre.

The English Patient

It may come wrapped in musky perfume, but Ondaatje's prose could go a few rounds with Hemingway and probably knock out Kipling, too. The latter is a comparison the author audaciously invites. At one point Hana reads the patient an extract from Kim: "He sat, in defiance of municipal orders, astride the gun Zamzamah on her brick platform opposite the old Ajaib-Gher — the Wonder House, as the natives call the Lahore Museum.

Who hold Zam-Zammah, that 'fire-breathing dragon', hold the Punjab; for the great green-bronze piece is always first of the conqueror's loot. Watch carefully where the commas fall so you can discover the natural pauses. He is a writer who used pen and ink. He looked up from the page a lot, I believe, stared through his window and listened to birds, as most writers who are alone do. Some do not know the names of birds, though he did.

Your eye is too quick and North American.

Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient, 'History,' and the Other

Think about the speed of his pen. What an appalling, barnacled old first paragraph it is otherwise. There are far brighter pyrotechnics in the book. But it's a good example of how hard Ondaatje's writing works. It works firstly because it's spot on: try and read that quote with and without commas. It works thematically: immediately you start thinking about empire and its impact, about the Orient, about adventure, about how much Kipling himself lost in war.

It works because it illuminates the polymath English patient: he's just the sort of man to have an opinion on how to read Kipling — and to be right about it. It works — craftily — as a guide to reading Ondaatje himself: The English Patient too should be taken slowly and with careful attention to rhythm.

And so it is throughout the book. You get the sense that every word is straining and bursting with meaning. Every word has been made to labour as well as delight. Everything is turned up to Everything, in short, works.But it's a good example of how hard Ondaatje's writing works. By all accounts the judges were bitterly and passionately divided about the books: the decision was made just 30 minutes before the ceremony, and the chair, Victoria Glendinning, characterised the awarding of the prize as a "necessary nonsense".

The naming calls. Moreover, as The Histories by Herodotus is not an English book, although it is at the basis of Western culture, The English Patient leads, ironically, to the 'discovery' of Colonial lies while the Colonial idea of English books as the source of universal knowledge is subverted.

The present is a mere moment in time, a moment in the expansive flow of history, a flow that extends into the future.

The book also has more background than the film can include and that is a welcome thing. I haven't read it either that's for next time and have no reason to doubt the competition was hard fought. The English patient who doesn't belong to the British Empire is a dying patient, who survives until the end of the story thanks to the care of a female character, Hana, who is a nurse.

Hana, the real main character of the novel is also the real mystery.