A Postcolonial Rewriting of History: Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient



This paper is an attempt to shed light on how Michael Ondaatje has tried to rewrite Western history in his Booker Prize-winning novel The English Patient (1992). In the light of Colonial and Postcolonial theories and Hayden White’s theory of narrativity of history, which regards historical accounts as metaphorical statements, the researchers try to show how Ondaatje challenges the authenticity of history written by Westerners about the Orientals. Ondaatje, as a migrant postcolonial writer, breaks the long-imposed silence of the marginal people by giving them access to speech whereby to express their own perceptions of reality. He also gives them access to the medium of writing to break the monolithic status of Western historiography (also reflected in Western literary works). Moreover, Ondaatje blurs the borderline between history and fiction in The English Patient to challenge the pseudo-scientific status of history, and presents fiction as a medium through which history is rewritten from the perspective of the ‘Other’.