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Literature: The English Patient

All I desired was to walk upon such an earth that had no maps.
—the English Patient

A 1992 novel by Canadian author Michael Ondaatje. The book opens in an abandoned villa in World War II Italy, where Hana, a Canadian army nurse, cares for a man referred to as the English Patient. He refuses to reveal his identity, but his speech and mannerisms indicate that he's an Englishman (his status as a patient is considerably less ambiguous, given that he's being treated for critical burns all over his body). Hana and the Patient are joined by David Caravaggio, a Canadian thief who knew Hana before the war, and who worked as an Allied spy until he was captured and maimed; and Kip, an Indian Sikh who's one of the best sappers in the British army. The story sprawls out non-linearly, digging into each character's backstory, with running themes of nationality, nationalism, and the Power of Love.

Made into a 1996 movie directed by Anthony Minghella. It cast Juliette Binoche as Hana, Ralph Fiennes as the "English Patient", Colin Firth as Geoffrey Clifton, Kristin Scott Thomas as Katharine Clifton, Willem Dafoe as Caravaggio, and Naveen Andrews as Kip. The film was a box office hit, earning $231,976,425 in the worldwide market. It has earned the distinguished pop-culture status of being "That movie Elaine bitched about in that one episode of Seinfeld." Both versions won a bunch of awards, most prominently the 1997 Oscar for Best Picture.

Provides examples of


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EnchantmentLiterature of the 1990sAn Equal Music

alternative title(s): The English Patient; The English Patient
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