Literary Precedents for The English Patient

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In his depiction of the human cost of modern warfare, Ondaatje has a precedent in Ernest Hemingway and, to a much lesser degree, Stephen Crane, who is mentioned in the book. There is also an echo of Hemingway and the modernists in the characters' disillusionment at the end of the war.

The importance and power of the past have been movingly explored in the works of William Faulkner. Sudden shifts in time and point-of-view, which Ondaatje uses quite effectively, can be found also in Faulkner's novels and short fiction.

Three of the great "desert" novels that bear on The English Patient are T. E. Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom (1935; popularized as Lawrence of Arabia), Paul Bowles's The Sheltering Sky (1949), and Lawrence Durrell's The Alexandria Quartet (1957-1960; see separate entry).

To find another book with the deft poetic imagery of The English Patient we would have to go back...

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This section contains 373 words
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Buy The English Patient Study Guide
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