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The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje

The English Patient (original 1992; edition 1992)

by Michael Ondaatje

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8,580126355 (3.93)590
Title:The English Patient
Authors:Michael Ondaatje
Info:Vintage Books (1992), Paperback
Collections:Your library
Tags:booker prize, canadian, prose, secondhand, war, pov, 2012

Work details

The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje (1992)

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» See also 590 mentions

English (117)  Dutch (3)  Spanish (2)  French (1)  Lithuanian (1)  Finnish (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (126)
Showing 1-5 of 117 (next | show all)
3.5 stars. This may be unpopular, but I was bored by this book. There were some beautiful passages, especially -- and I'm biased here -- with Hana and her nursing, but otherwise, I just felt meh. ( )
  Sareene | Oct 22, 2016 |
I have never seen the movie that was made from this book, and I am not sure if I'm going to. I really really struggled with the first 100 pages or so of this novel. They are soooo overly descriptive. And entire page associated with 1 person drawing a hopscotch game on the ground and hopping through once. Just so much description for nothing happening.

Once the character of Kip comes into the story, it gets more interesting. Now there are actual relationships, and some chapters go back in time to explain how the characters got to this point in their lives.

Still a struggle (it took me 10 days to get through 300 pages!). But it's done. I do want to find the Seinfeld episode where Elaine complains about the movie--I think I will get it now. ( )
  Dreesie | Sep 30, 2016 |
A slow lyrical read with beautiful prose. The plot rambles a bit. Could have been tighter, but all is forgiven. A definite recommend. ( )
  zoegreenfeld | Sep 20, 2016 |
"In The English Patient Ondaatje weaves a complex tapestry as he follows the paths of four diverse lives caught and changed and inextricably connected by the improbable circumstances of war."
1 vote | MerrittGibsonLibrary | Jun 30, 2016 |
Wonderful and the movie was great too. ( )
1 vote ShelleyAlberta | Jun 4, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 117 (next | show all)
... the plane must have been drying out under its tarpaulin in the desert for eight years. It is entirely covered with sand. Almasy `digs' it out : with what? ... Having shifted tons of sand ... he moves, single-handed, the plane out on to the level, so it can take off. How, single-handed, does he `swing the prop'? ... sand would have penetrated moving parts of the machinery and would have to be meticulously dusted out. ... Almasy merely pours in his can of petrol -- and the engine starts!
added by KayCliff | editWhere was Rebecca shot?, John Sutherland (Mar 14, 1998)
It is a complex and confusing novel whose readers might easily want to consult the index simply to untangle the threads of the plot ... to clarify events that had another meaning ... in an earlier context.

» Add other authors (35 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Michael Ondaatjeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dormagen, AdelheidTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fiennes, RalphNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Most of you, I am sure, remember the tragic circumstances of the death of Geoffrey Clifton at Gilf Kebir, followed later by the disappearance of his wife, Katharine Clifton, which took place during the 1939 desert expedition in search of Zerzura.

"I cannot begin this meeting tonight without referring very sympathetically to those tragic occurrences.
"The lecture this evening . . . "
~ From the minutes of the Geographical Society meeting of November 194-, London
In memory of
Skip and Mary Dickinson

For Quintin and Griffin

And for Louise Dennys,
with thanks
First words
She stands up in the garden where she has been working and looks into the distance.
“Why are you not smarter? It's only the rich who can't afford to be smart. They're compromised. They got locked years ago into privilege. They have to protect their belongings. No one is meaner than the rich. Trust me. But they have to follow the rules of their shitty civilised world. They declare war, they have honour, and they can't leave. But you two. We three. We're free.”
“There is a whirlwind in southern Morocco, the aajej, against which the fellahin defend themselves with knives. There is the africo, which has at times reached into the city of Rome. The alm, a fall wind out of Yugoslavia. The arifi, also christened aref or rifi, which scorches with numerous tongues. These are permanent winds that live in the present tense.
There are other, less constant winds that change direction, that can knock down horse and rider and realign themselves anticlockwise. The bist roz leaps into Afghanistan for 170 days--burying villages. There is the hot, dry ghibli from Tunis, which rolls and rolls and produces a nervous condition. The haboob--a Sudan dust storm that dresses in bright yellow walls a thousand metres high and is followed by rain. The harmattan, which blows and eventually drowns itself into the Atlantic. Imbat, a sea breeze in North Africa. Some winds that just sigh towards the sky. Night dust storms that come with the cold. The khamsin, a dust in Egypt from March to May, named after the Arabic word for 'fifty,' blooming for fifty days--the ninth plague of Egypt. The datoo out of Gibraltar, which carries fragrance.
There is also the ------, the secret wind of the desert, whose name was erased by a king after his son died within it. And the nafhat--a blast out of Arabia. The mezzar-ifoullousen--a violent and cold southwesterly known to Berbers as 'that which plucks the fowls.' The beshabar, a black and dry northeasterly out of the Caucasus, 'black wind.' The Samiel from Turkey, 'poison and wind,' used often in battle. As well as the other 'poison winds,' the simoom, of North Africa, and the solano, whose dust plucks off rare petals, causing giddiness.
Other, private winds.
Travelling along the ground like a flood. Blasting off paint, throwing down telephone poles, transporting stones and statue heads. The harmattan blows across the Sahara filled with red dust, dust as fire, as flour, entering and coagulating in the locks of rifles. Mariners called this red wind the 'sea of darkness.' Red sand fogs out of the Sahara were deposited as far north as Cornwall and Devon, producing showers of mud so great this was also mistaken for blood. 'Blood rains were widely reported in Portugal and Spain in 1901.'
There are always millions of tons of dust in the air, just as there are millions of cubes of air in the earth and more living flesh in the soil (worms, beetles, underground creatures) than there is grazing and existing on it. Herodotus records the death of various armies engulfed in the simoom who were never seen again. One nation was 'so enraged by this evil wind that they declared war on it and marched out in full battle array, only to be rapidly and completely interred.”
“All I desired was to walk upon such an earth that had no maps.”
“The desert could not be claimed or owned — it was a piece of cloth carried by winds, never held down by stones, and given a hundred shifting names before Canterbury existed, long before battles and treaties quilted Europe and the East ... All of us, even those with European homes and children in the distance, wished to remove the clothing of our countries. It was a place of faith. We disappeared into landscape.”
“We die containing a richness of lovers and tribes, tastes we have swallowed, bodies we have plunged into and swam up as if rivers of wisdom, characters we have climbed into as if trees, fears we have hidden in as if cares... I believe in such cartography - to be marked by nature, not just to label ourselves on a map like the names of rich men and women on buildings. We are communal histories, communal books. WE are not owned or monogamous in our taste or experience. All I desired was to walk upon such an earth that had no maps.”
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679745203, Paperback)

Haunting and harrowing, as beautiful as it is disturbing, The English Patient tells the story of the entanglement of four damaged lives in an Italian monastery as World War II ends. The exhausted nurse, Hana; the maimed thief, Caravaggio; the wary sapper, Kip: each is haunted by the riddle of the English patient, the nameless, burn victim who lies in an upstairs room and whose memories of passion, betrayal, and rescue illuminate this book like flashes of heat lightning. In lyrical prose informed by a poetic consciousness, Michael Ondaatje weaves these characters together, pulls them tight, then unravels the threads with unsettling acumen.

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 the Skin of a Lion, Coming Through Slaughter and The Collected Works of Billy the Kid; two collections of poems, The Cinnamon Peeler and There's a Trick with a Knife I'm Learning to Do; and a memoir, Running in the Family.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:36 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

The Booker Prize-winning novel, now a critically acclaimed major motion picture, starring Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe and Kristin Scott Thomas. With ravishing beauty and unsettling intelligence, Michael Ondaatje's Booker Prize-winning novel traces the intersection of four damaged lives in an Italian villa at the end of World War II. Hana, the exhausted nurse; the maimed thief, Caravaggio; the wary sapper, Kip: each is haunted by the riddle of the English patient, the nameless, burned man who lies in an upstairs room and whose memories of passion, betrayal, and rescue illuminates this book like flashes of heat lightening.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 13 descriptions

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