Published: September 1992
Book Title: The English Patient
Writer: Michael Ondaatje
Publisher: McClelland and Stewart
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The English Patient is a Historiography meta fiction novel. It was published in1992 novel. The author of this novel is Michael Ondaatje. The book talks about four dissimilar people who brought together at same Italian villa during World War II. These four main characters are: a Sikh British Army sapper, an recognizably burned man patient, he is presumed to be English; his Canadian Army nurse,and a Canadian thief. The book won Booker Prize and Governor General’s Award too. The book was adapted for film into a 1996 film by Anthony Minghella, it Ralph Fiennes, Willem Dafoe, Kristin Scott Thomas, Colin Firth, and Juliette Binoche. The film received almost nine Academy Awards—including the Best Picture and Directorat 69th Academy Awards.
The historical backdrop of novel is North African and Italian Campaigns of World War II. The story is told in out of sequence way, moving back and forth like between severely burned “English” patient’s memories to before his accident and his current events at bomb-damaged Villa in an Italian monastery, where he is being under cared by Hana, who is a young Canadian Army nurse. The English patient’s possession is only a well-worn, and annotated copy of Herodotus’s The Histories that survived fiery parachute drop. Hearing this book constantly being read aloud to him brings detailed recollections of desert explorations, yet he is unable to remember his own name. Instead, he believed in the assumption by others that he is an Englishman based on sound of his voice. In fact patient is László de Almásy, who is a Hungarian Count and desert explorer, among one of many members of British cartography group.
Caravaggio, who is an Italian-Canadian in British foreign intelligence service since late 1930s. He learns that Hana is at villa caring for a patient. He remained in North Africa to spy when German forces gained the control and then he transfers to Italy. He is eventually caught by forces they interrogated, and tortured to him; they even cut off his thumbs.Caravaggio bears a lot of physical and psychological scars from his painful war experiences for which he seeks vengeance.
Two British soldiers yell Hana to stop her from playing the piano since Germans often trapped them. One of soldiers, Kip, who is an Indian Sikh, a trained sapper, he specializes in bomb and ordnance disposal. Kip decides to stay at villa in attempt to clear it of unexplored bomb and ordnance. Kip and English patient immediately become good friends.
The English patient, then sedated by morphine, he begins to reveal everything: he fell in love with Englishwoman Katharine Clifton she was with her husband Geoffrey, at Almásy’s desert exploration team. Geoffrey offers her to return Almásy to Cairo on his private plane since expedition will break camp with coming of war. Almásy is unaware about that Katharine is aboard plane as it flies low over him and then it suddenly crashes. Geoffrey is killed at the spot. Katharine is badly injured internally and Almásy leaves her in Cave of Swimmers. Caravaggio tells Almásy about that British Intelligence knew about their affair. Almásy makes three-day trek to British-controlled El Taj for help. When he reaches, he then detained as a spy because of his name. He later guides other spies across desert to Cairo. Almásy retrieves the Katharine’s body from Cave and, while he was flying back, decrepit plane leaks oil onto him and Katherine both of them catch fire. He parachutes from plane and is found by Bedouin.
The novel ends up with Kip learning that America has bombed nuclear bomb to Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Philip Michael Ondaatje is a Sri Lankan-born Canadian novelist and poet. His best considered works are The English Patient,Running in the Family,Divisadero,In the Skin of a Lion and Coming Through Slaughter. He won Booker Prize for his bestselling novel The English Patient in 1992. He was born in Sri Lanka and later moved to England in 1954. Educated from Dulwich College. In 1970 he also teach in University of Western Ontario. He also awarded by Sri Lanka Ratna by Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga.
The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje