Alterity and History in Micheal Ondaatje's 'The English Patient' by Saskia Lührig

Alterity and History in Micheal Ondaatje's 'The English Patient'

bySaskia Lührig

Kobo ebook | March 10, 2009

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Seminar paper from the year 2006 in the subject English Language and Literature Studies - Literature, grade: 3,0, University of Cologne, course: Contemporary Canadian Novel, 22 entries in the bibliography, language: English, abstract: In Michael Ondaatje's novel The English Patient, the notions of alterity and history play an important and interconnected role. It is set in the last days of World War II and is full of historical hints. The characters in the novel spend the last days of the war in a villa in Italy. Hana, the Canadian nurse, and her patient, whose identity is unknown at first as he is deformed after a plane crash, form an alternative community. Caravaggio, who worked for British Intelligence in North Africa, and Kip, an Indian Sikh and sapper in the British army, are the other two members of this community. The author himself stated in the acknowledgements that 'characters who appear are fictional, as are some of the events and journeys' (322). Now the question arises, to which extent these characters and events are based on 'true' historical facts. But parallel with this the question of 'historical truth' is raised. Hence, this paper will discuss in which way and why Ondaatje fictionalised historical material. Furthermore, the novel deals with the way history is written and shows through its fragmented style of narration the various ways history is recorded and the problems of 'historical truth' as a universal concept. Strongly connected with Ondaatje's treatment of history is the notion of the Other in the novel. To understand the way alterity is used it is necessary to give a short definition of the term and to outline its relevance in literary theories. The notion of alterity is concerned with the definition of identity in contrast to the Other. In The English Patient, the East as the Other and the Western treatment of this concept of Otherness are represented, on the one hand, by the various characters in the novel as they try to reconstruct their identity by depicting the Other. This will be shown especially in the case of the English Patient and Kip. On the other hand, the notion of alterity can be found in the novel's intertexts which illustrate how the concept of Otherness was treated by authors and historians and in which way the characters in the novel are dealing with it. [...]

Title:Alterity and History in Micheal Ondaatje's 'The English Patient'Format:Kobo ebookPublished:March 10, 2009Publisher:GRIN PublishingLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:3640285468

ISBN - 13:9783640285464