Postcolonial Discourse on Ondaatje’s The English Patient

Abdoulie Senghore


The English Patient (1992) is Michael Ondaatje’s most acclaimed novel to date. “Set in Tuscany, Italy, at the end of the Second World War, the novel holds readers’ attention by both the dramatic circumstances and astonishing pasts of the characters in this epic tale of the physical and emotional damage inflicted by war and love (Canadian Encyclopedia, 2013).” In The English Patient (1992), the empire is not only writing back but it is writing with sublimity and verve, from the margins to the centre using the English language which in itself is a colonial legacy. In this story, Ondaatje intertwines the past and the present through conversations between the characters as they reminisce about the past. The extradiegetic or omniscient frame narratives involve internal focalization that shifts between time and between the characters, resulting into the fragmentation of the narrative, rendering different postcolonial perspectives about the events in the story to the reader.



Postcolonial; Identity; War; Maps

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