The IUP Journal of English Studies
Textual Bodiliness in Ondaatje"s The English Patient

Article Details
Pub. Date : June, 2020
Product Name : The IUP Journal of English Studies
Product Type : Article
Product Code : IJES30620
Author Name : Nasser Y Athamneh and Muttasim Alrawashdeh
Availability : YES
Subject/Domain : Arts & Humanities
Download Format : PDF Format
No. of Pages : 08



This paper aims at eliciting the human and physical aspects of Michael Ondaatje's 1992 novel, The English Patient. It argues that the human and physical aspects of this novel are derived from its very signs, its author's textual existence or inclusion, its characters and their actions, and its readers' interaction with its text. The paper tries to show that the author, the text, and the reader are in a state of constant interaction and exchange of physical/bodily activities and traits/characteristics. It concludes that the writer, the text, and the readers of The English Patient are involved equally in reciprocal simulative bodiliness that forms a significant aspect of the processes of writing and reading works of fiction. Close textual reading/analysis is employed as the method of presentation in the paper.


There are texts that are made of flesh. When you read these texts, you receive them as such. (Cixous 1990) Many postmodern scholars, such as Julia Kristeva, Jacques Derrida, Louis Hjelmslev, and Daniel Chandler, conceive of the sign as a material entity. However, Ferdinand de Saussure, who is considered one of the founders of modern semiology, regards the sign to be, as Chandler (2002, 20) notes, "bracketing the referent: excluding reference to objects existing in the world. His signified is not to be identified directly with such a referent but is a concept in the mind." Launching a differentiation between "symbol" and "sign," Kristeva (1981, 40) adheres to the idea that "the sign refers back to entities both of lesser scope and more concretized than those of the symbol. They are reified universals become objects in the strongest sense of the word." Kristeva is seen by some critics to be "first associated with the term 'writing the body' through her theory of semiotics" (Still 2009, 269). This theory shows Kristeva"s predilections toward the materialization of the sign. The sign, thus, refers to concrete objects in the world. Certainly, human body is a major reference for the sign inasmuch as this body is the originator (writer) and receiver or


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