I love reading Michael Ondjaanti . His prose reads like poetry. It’s been almost fifteen years since I read THE ENGLISH PATIENT. I am reading it again for the sheer joy of rediscovering its magic.
“She picks up the notebook that lies on the small table beside his bed. It is the book he brought with him through the fire-a copy of the Histories by Herodotus that he has added to, cutting and gluing in pages from other books or writing in his own observations-so that all are cradled within the text of Herodotus”. The English Patient, Knopf, l992, page 16.
THE ENGLISH PATIENT has inspired me to return to making altered books. I found this book in a pile marked Fifty Cents. I liked the worn purple cover and the heavy already yellowed pages. The book is called Vale. It was written by gentleman upon his graduation from Eton in l934. The contests are less than noteworthy and definitely not worth reading. But holding the book in my hand I thought about a man who begins a journey of discovery. A man who follows his dream.
I’ve prepared the book by taking out pages so I may add others. Then I painted over the text in various colours. This will be my background.
The pages are drying. I’ll weight them down to flatten them. Then I’ll begin my story. Arthur’s English mother married a wealthy French man. Arthur grew up in France but Mother felt spending his time sketching birds was not appropriate for a man of his standing. It was off to Eton for Arthur. So begins Arthur’s journey and my altered book. I have a good idea how this story will end but what adventures happen in between I have no idea.
A wicker suitcase holds ephemera that may go into Arthur’s book.