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ONDAATJE, Michael



The English Patient

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You think that you are an iconoclast, but you’re not. You just move, or replace what you cannot have. If you fail at something, you retreat into something else. Nothing changes you.... I left you because I knew I could never change you. You would stand in the room so still sometimes, as if the greatest betrayal of yourself would be to reveal one more inch of your character.

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Her life with others no longer interests him. He wants only her stalking beauty, her theatre of expressions. He wants the minute secret reflection between them, the depth of field minimal, their foreignness intimate like two pages of a closed book.

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You have to protect yourself from sadness. Sadness is very close to hate. Let me tell you this. This is the thing I learned. If you take in someone else's poison – thinking you can cure them by sharing it – you will instead store it within you. Those men in the desert were smarter than you. They assumed he could be useful. So they saved him, but when he was no longer useful they left him.

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