Please wait while we process your payment
If you don't see it, please check your spam folder. Sometimes it can end up there.
Don’t have an account?
Create Your Account
Sign up for your FREE 7-day trial
Already have an account? Log in
Choose Your Plan
$4.99/month + tax
$24.99/year + tax
Save over 50% with a SparkNotes PLUS Annual Plan!
for a group?
Get Annual Plans at a discount when you buy 2 or more!
$18.74 /subscription + tax
Subtotal $37.48 + tax
on 2-49 accounts
on 50-99 accounts
You'll be billed after your free trial ends.
7-Day Free Trial
Renews March 7, 2024
February 29, 2024
Discounts (applied to next billing)
This is not a valid promo code.
(one code per order)
Annual Plan - Group Discount
SparkNotes Plus subscription is $4.99/month or $24.99/year as selected above. The free trial period is the first 7 days of your subscription. TO CANCEL YOUR SUBSCRIPTION AND AVOID BEING CHARGED, YOU MUST CANCEL BEFORE THE END OF THE FREE TRIAL PERIOD. You may cancel your subscription on your Subscription and Billing page or contact Customer Support at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your subscription will continue automatically once the free trial period is over. Free trial is available to new customers only.
For the next 7 days, you'll have access to awesome PLUS stuff like AP English test prep, No Fear Shakespeare translations and audio, a note-taking tool, personalized dashboard, & much more!
You’ve successfully purchased a group discount. Your group members can use the joining link below to redeem their group membership. You'll also receive an email with the link.
Members will be prompted to log in or create an account to redeem their group membership.
Thanks for creating a SparkNotes account! Continue to start your free trial.
Your PLUS subscription has expired
Michael Ondaatje, poet, filmmaker, and editor, was born in Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in September 1943. He moved to England with his mother in 1954, and then relocated to Canada in 1962, receiving an undergraduate degree from the University of Toronto and a master's degree from Queen's University in Kingston. Originally a poet, Ondaatje's eventual career in fiction was boosted by the success of his book of poetry, The Collected Works of Billy the Kid (1970), an account of the factual and fictional life of the famous outlaw, for which Ondaatje won a Governor General's award. He won the coveted award again in 1979 for a second book of poetry entitled There's a Trick with a Knife I'm Learning to Do.
In the 1980s, Ondaatje turned his attention to novels, publishing Running in the Family (1982) about his family's life in Ceylon, and In the Skin of the Lion (1987), which is set in 1930s Toronto. Ondaatje is perhaps best known, however, for The English Patient (1992), a novel set in World War II Italy. Ondaatje won a Booker Prize for the novel, and the 1996 film adaptation went on to win widespread critical acclaim and nine Academy Awards. Alongside his writing, Ondaatje has taught at York University in Toronto since 1971. He and his wife, Linda Spalding, make there home in Toronto, and together edit the literary journal Brick.
The English Patient is a work of historical fiction set in the hills of Tuscany during World War II. It intersperses the factual and the imaginary into a tale of tragedy and passion. Structurally, the novel resists chronological order, alternating between present action in the Italian villa and flashbacks to memories of a mysterious desert romance that is gradually revealed. The imagery is characterized by Ondaatje's "preoccupation with romantic exoticism and multiculturalism." Rather than offer a narrator telling a straightforward story, Ondaatje turns the romance into an unlikely mystery, revealing hidden facets of character and identity as the novel progresses. Ondaatje explores his characters by placing them in blank, secluded settings. Both the barren desert and the isolated Tuscan villa are insular and remote, enabling the author to study his characters intensely.
Innovative in narrative structure and complicated by numerous points of view, The English Patient resists easy classification into any particular literary genre. Yet Ondaatje uses the novel to renew themes that have been explored throughout the ages: national identity, the connection between body and mind, and love that transcends place and time. Perhaps most significant is the fact that Ondaatje blends the forms of prose and poetry, evoking images and emotions with highly lyrical language. His words translate "real experience into symbolic experience" by appealing to memories that involve all of the reader's senses. As Ondaatje once said in a radio interview, he uses his prose to "create a tactile landscape for his choreography." In The English Patient such a landscape augments the poetry and lyricism of the novel.
Ace your assignments with our guide to The English Patient!