Monday, November 18, 2013

The English Patient

The novel had been on my reading wish list for a long long time. Finally finished reading it. And I loved it - in parts. The part on bombs, while very comprehensive, frankly did not interest me. I devoured the passages about human relationships and love. Loved Kip, got intrigued by Almasy and Caravaggio, adored Hana and admired Katherine. I wanted to post many many small bits from the novel. But somehow after some time, I forgot to put markings in the novel and lost the pages. Here are a few of the selections - in random order.


“She had always wanted words, she loved them, grew up on them. Words gave her clarity, brought reason, shape. Whereas I thought words bent emotions like sticks in water.” (238)

“Women want everything of a lover. And too often I would sink below the surface.  So armies disappear under sand, and there was her fear of her husband, her belief in her honour, my old desire for self-sufficiency, my disappearances, her suspicions of men, by disbelief that she loved me. The paranoia and claustrophobia of hidden love. (238)

Death means you are in the third person.” (247)

“If I gave you my life, you would drop it. Wouldn’t you?” (145)

“- the old guy upstairs is asleep. Hana’s obsessed with him. I am obsessed with the sanity of Hana, I’m obsessed with my ‘balance,’ and Kip will probably get blown up one of these days.” (121)

“I’ll rewire him in the morning.” He puts his left hand on her shoulder. (115)

“… Could you fall in love with her if she wasn’t smarter than you? I mean, she may not be smarter than you. But isn’t it important for you to think she is smarter than you in order to fall in love? Think now. She can be obsessed by the Englishman because he knows more. We’re in a huge field when we talk to that guy. We don’t even know if he’s English. He’s probably not. You see, I think it is easier to fall in love with him than with you. Why is that? Because we want to know things, how the pieces fit. Talkers seduce, words direct us into corners. We want more than anything to grow and change. Brave new world.” (120-21)

Words, Caravaggio. They have a power. (234)

“This alcohol will probably kill me.”
“Nothing will kill you, my friend. You are pure carbon.” (109)

“You have to protect yourself from sadness. Sadness is very close to hate… if you take in someone else’s poison -  thinking you can cure them by sharing it – you will instead store it within you.” (45)

How did you hate me? She whispered. You killed almost everything in me. (257)


The English Patient - Michael Ondaatje
Vintage Books Canada Edition, 1993