Day School: The Book and the Film - 'The English Patient' by Michael Ondaatje

Ref: C3744421

At the beginning of The English Patient we are introduced to a man wearing a leather helmet in flames falling naked from the sky. He is without a name, a race or any past identity. One of the central themes of the novel therefore, is the mystery surrounding the English Patient himself. The setting for the story ranges from a battered old villa, to the landscape of the desert. It is in the villa we enter the private memories and thoughts of the novels four main characters. This allows us to explore the relationship between history and personal identity. These differing perspectives also help us to examine world events towards the end of the Second World war and in particular the tensions between East and West. Although the primary focus of the day is on the novel, if time permits, we will discuss the multi award winning film adaptation made in 1996.

Additional information about this course

This course is not supported by the Education Skills Funding Agency and does not have a fee waiver but concessions may be available - contact the Branch for further details.

Course aim

This Day School will explore Michael Ondaatje"s award winning novel The English Patient and compare it briefly with the multi-award winning film adaptation.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is for beginners
  • This course is available to anyone with an interest in literature. No skills or experience is needed. All you need is an enthusiasm for reading and discussing novels.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Describe the novel's main theme of the relationship between memory, history and personal identity
  • Explain the importance of the setting of the novel both in the desert and in Italy
  • Examine Ondaatje's use of storytelling techniques and the differing perspectives of each of the four main characters that underpin the main action of the story
  • Compare and contrast the characters of at least two of the main characters of the novel
  • Describe the identity of the English patient and its importance in understanding the main theme of the novel

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • We will use clips from the 1996 film to compare and contrast novel with film

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning
  • You will be encouraged to consider other students work and give your opinions and suggestions

What else do I need to know?

  • It would be helpful - but not essential - if you could bring with you a copy of the novel

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • pre-course reading is essential but it would be useful if you have an understanding of the novel's plot

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider

Download full course information sheet

Day School: The Book and the Film - 'The English Patient' by Michael Ondaatje

Enrolment Conditions

As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2019
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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