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Volume 27, Number 2 (2002)

Sleeping with Herodotus in The English Patient

  • Vernon Provencal
March 25, 2010


Michael Ondaatje's narratological view of history places him in the proximity of postcolonial/postmodern historicism that treats "history" as "text." But while The English Patient offers a postcolonial/postmodern critique of The Histories, Herodotus cannot simply be dismissed; he is literally bound up with the English patient's life. Ondaatje bifurcates Herodotus into main and supplemental arguments, corresponding to imperial and existential histories — a bifurcation that does not exist in The Histories. Such an interpretation is a result of Ondaatje's ongoing reflection on the "text" of Western history in light of its postcolonial/postmodern deconstruction.