Michael Ondaatje’s “The English Patient” Quotes (48 Quotes)


    Kirpal's left hand swoops down and catches the dropped fork an inch from the floor and gently passes it into the fingers of his daughter, a wrinkle at the edge of his eyes behind his spectacles.


    Tell me, is it possible to love someone who is not as smart as you are? ...But isn't it important for you to think she is smarter than you in order to fall in love? ...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.

    He knows that the only way he can accept losing her is if he can continue to hold her or be held by her. If they can somehow nurse each other out of this. Not with a wall.

    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 me, my disbelief that she loved me. The paranoia and claustrophobia of hidden love.


    Maybe this is the way to come out of a war, he thinks. A burned man to care for, some sheets to wash in a fountain, a room painted like a garden.


    The desert could not be claimed or owned - it was a piece of cloth carried by winds, never held down by stones, and given a hundred shifting names before Canterbury existed, long before battles and treaties quilted Europe and the East ... All of us, even those with European homes and children in the distance, wished to remove the clothing of our countries. It was a place of faith. We disappeared into landscape.

    He was a man who wrote, who interpreted the world. Wisdom grew out of being handed just the smallest sliver of emotion. A glance could lead to paragraphs of theory.

    You built your walls too, she tells him. So I have my wall. She says it glittering in a beauty he cannot stand. She with her beautiful clothes with her pale face that laughs at everyone who smiles at her...


    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.



    You have to protect yourself from sadness. Sadness is very close to hate. Let me tell you this. This is the thing I learned. If you take in someone else's poison - thinking you can cure them by sharing it - you will instead store it within you. Those men in the desert were smarter than you. They assumed he could be useful. So they saved him, but when he was no longer useful they left him.




    Her life with others no longer interests him. He wants only her stalking beauty, her theatre of expressions. He wants the minute secret reflection between them, the depth of field minimal, their foreignness intimate like two pages of a closed book.

    You must talk to me, Caravaggio. Or am I just a book? Something to be read, some creature to be tempted out of a loch and shot full of morphine, full of corridors, lies, loose vegetation, pockets of stones.

    Moments before sleep are when she feels most alive, leaping across fragments of the day, bringing each moment into the bed with her like a child with schoolbooks and pencils. The day seems to have no order until these times, which are like a ledger for her, her body full of stories and situations.

    Don't we forgive everything of a lover? We forgive selfishness, desire, guile. As long as we are the motive for it...There are some European words you can never translate properly into another language.



    You think that you are an iconoclast, but you're not. You just move, or replace what you cannot have. If you fail at something, you retreat into something else. Nothing changes you.... I left you because I knew I could never change you. You would stand in the room so still sometimes, as if the greatest betrayal of yourself would be to reveal one more inch of your character.

    Nowadays he doesn't think of his wife, though he knows he can turn around and evoke every move of her, describe any aspect of her, the weigh of her wrist on his heart during the night.


    There are betrayals in war that are childlike compared with our human betrayals during peace. The new lovers enter the habits of the other. Things are smashed, revealed in a new light. This is done with nervous or tender sentences, although the heart is an organ of fire.

    I believe this. When we meet those we fall in love with, there is an aspect of our spirit that is historian, a bit of a pedant who reminisces or remembers a meeting when the other has passed by innocentlyàbut all parts of the body must be ready for the other, all atoms must jump in one direction for desire to occur.

    She entered the story knowing she would emerge from it feeling she had been immersed in the lives of others, in plots that stretched back twenty years, her body full of sentences and moments, as if awaking from sleep with a heaviness caused by unremembered dreams.


    More Michael Ondaatje Quotations (Based on Topics)


    World - Books - Love - Time - Light - Place - Literature - Countries - War & Peace - Poetry - Honor - Name - Writing - Man - Water - Characters - Soul - Beauty - Danger & Risk - View All Michael Ondaatje Quotations

    More Michael Ondaatje Quotations (By Book Titles)


    - The English Patient

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