The English Patient

Michael Ondaatje, Vintage International 2nd Edtion 1996, (1992)

Were people different before the war? It seems as though everything that happens today and the way by which we move about one another is a consequence of the wars. Perhaps the world is still exhausted and needs a rest. A rest that cannot come now because war is everywhere and unceasing. Ondaatje replicates a lost time in the period directly after the Second World War; spaces of time filled with stillness and sudden explosions. The life of the three individuals all housed within a Tuscan Villa are beautifully intermingled. Not only do they come to represent a type of community of suffers in the aftermath of one of the world’s greatest horrors but they all relate on a personal level also. Theirs is a symbolic suffering yet they themselves are not symbols or metaphors, they are people. Individuals trapped within their own lives and the notions of such. The English Patient seems to sprawl on for decades yet the timing is set within all but a few months; their histories finely interwoven with the story line. A beautiful image of a lost world and so nostalgic in nature.


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