The English Patient
Important Quotations Explained
"Most of you, I am sure, remember the tragic circumstances of the death of Geoffrey Clifton at Gilf Kebir, followed later by the disappearance of his wife, Katharine Clifton, which took place during the 1939 desert expedition in search of Zerzura." "I cannot begin this meeting tonight without referring very sympathetically to those tragic occurrences." "The lecture this evening "
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.
A novel is a mirror walking down a road Many books open with an author's assurance of order. One slipped into their waters with a silent paddle But novels commenced with hesitation or chaos. Readers were never fully in balance. A door a lock a weir opened and they rushed through, one hand holding a gunnel, the other a hat. When she begins a book, she enters through stilted doorways into large courtyards.
The Villa San Girolamo, built to protect inhabitants from the flesh of the devil, had the look of a besieged fortress, the limbs of most of the statues blown off during the first days of shelling. There seemed little demarcation between house and landscape, between damaged building and the burned and shelled remnants of the earth. To Hana the wild gardens were further rooms In spite of the burned earth, in spite of the lack of water. Someday there would be a bower of limes, rooms of green light.
Every four days she washes his black body, beginning at the destroyed feet Above the shins the burns are worst. Beyond purple. Bone. She has nursed him for months and she knows the body well, the penis sleeping like a sea horse, the thin tight hips. Hipbones of Christ, she thinks. He is her despairing saint. He lies flat on his back, no pillow, looking up at the foliage painted onto the ceiling, its canopy of branches, and above that, blue sky.
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