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The Eye in the Door by Pat Barker
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The Eye in the Door (original 1994; edition 1995)

by Pat Barker

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1,652454,361 (4)166
Member:writestuff
Title:The Eye in the Door
Authors:Pat Barker
Info:Plume (1995), Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction, 2008 Read, British Literature

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The Eye in the Door by Pat Barker (1994)

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Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
Exploring sexuality and masculinity during WWI. ( )
  kale.dyer | Feb 16, 2017 |
I wish I had read this a bit sooner after reading Regeneration. Some of the details from the first novel had faded in my mind, and it took me a while to re-orient myself. Nevertheless, this is a wonderful novel, precise in its dialogue and descriptions and devastating in its critique of war. ( )
  jalbacutler | Jan 10, 2017 |
THE EYE IN THE DOOR is book two in Pat Barker's WWI trilogy which began with REGENERATION, a superb novel. The story of Dr. William Rivers and his shell-shock patients - which include poet Siegfried Sassoon - continues here, but with something of a new emphasis on things like schizophrenia, as evidenced in character Billy Prior's frequent blackouts - blank spaces in his life during which he has no idea what he might have done. The Jekyll-Hyde comparison is used more than once in the story. Indeed, the book's epigraph is a quote from the R.L. Stevenson classic. Rivers begins to better understand Sassoon's own case thusly -

"Siegfried had always coped with the war by being two people: the anti-war poet and pacifist; the bloodthirsty, efficient company commander ... experience gained in one state was available to the other. Not just 'available': it was the serving officer's experience that furnished the raw material ... for the poems."

The dual personality, or schizophrenia, becomes relevant not just to Prior's case, but also to Sassoon and to Dr. Rivers himself, who, like Prior, may have suffered some undiagnosed psychological trauma in his own childhood.

Lt Billy Prior, in any case, is an ingenious, fascinating and utterly believable character - a marvelous creation, and, along with Rivers and Sassoon, a character central to all three novels. Molested by a priest as a boy, he seems at times to be utterly amoral in his tortured bisexuality, and is also ultra-aware (and contemptuous) of the constancy of the English class system within the army.

While I'm not sure THE EYE IN THE DOOR is quite as good as REGENERATION, it is certainly key to understanding the complete trilogy. Or at least I think it is. I am reading book three (THE GHOST ROAD) now. Very highly recommended. Pat Barker is a marvelous story teller who has an intimate grasp of what makes people tick. Her trilogy of the Great War is a look into the horrors of shell shock, 'neurasthenia,' or, as we know it today, PTSD.

- Tim Bazzett, author of the memoir, BOOKLOVER ( )
  TimBazzett | Jan 5, 2017 |
The Eye in the Door by Pat Barker is the second part of the Regeneration trilogy. The book is set in London, starting in the spring of 1918. The book continues the story of Billy Prior with Dr. Rivers and Siegfried Sassoon making further appearances as well. The story concentrates on what was happening away from the front, which all too often meant persecuting the conscious objectors and engaging in witch-hunts to root out homosexuals.

The main focus of the story is Billy Prior, now liberated from Craiglockhart and working in military intelligence. Billy is a mass of contradictions being both a soldier who fought at the front but also who suffered from shell shock. He is an officer but is from a working class background, and he is bi-sexual. Still being treated by Dr. Rivers, Billy suffers both memory lapses and blackouts but with his strong personality and internal conflicts he is the driving force in this book.

As with most trilogies, I suspect this second book works as a bridge to connect the first volume to the third. I am still very much intrigued with how the author is serving up a story that deals with so many difficult subject matters including the mental aspects of war, class divisions, the struggle with striking unions, pacifists and how homosexuality was perceived as a threat to British society. A challenging read but also a rewarding one. I am looking forward to the final volume. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Nov 20, 2016 |
Unlike Regeneration, The Eye in the Door focuses more on the fictional character of Billy Prior. Though the elements of trauma are still prominent, book 2 of the trilogy delves into the "problems" of the pacifists and "sodomites." Barker shows us a fact of war that we all have seen: when it becomes harder to justify the war, a scapegoat can always be found. It's really interesting discovering England's use of the "sodomite" scapegoat, because it's not something I remember reading in history books. Reading this series has a taught me a great deal on World War I and I cannot wait to see how this series ends. ( )
  Sareene | Oct 22, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
"The Eye in the Door" succeeds as both historical fiction and as sequel. Its research and speculation combine to produce a kind of educated imagination that is persuasive and illuminating . . . Occasionally the novel's pedagogic impulse, usually smoothly subterranean, surfaces. . . Ultimately, though, "The Eye in the Door" is an impressive work. . .
 
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It was on the moral side, and in my own person, that I learned to recognize the thorough and primitive duality of man; I saw that, of the two natures that contended in the field of my consciousness, even if I could rightly be said to be either, it was only because I was radically both...
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For David
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In formal beds beside the Serpentine, early tulips stood in tight-lipped rows.
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Book description
Dit tweede deel van Pat Barkers trilogie over de Eerste Wereldoorlog schildert de hysterie die in i 918 aan het Engelse thuisfront ontstaat. Pacifisten en homoseksuelen worden aangewezen als de oorzaak van een dreigende nederlaag. Luitenant Prior, die sinds hij aan het front de oogbal van een gesneuvelde kameraad in zijn hand heeft gehouden aan een oorlogstrauma lijdt, wordt ingezet tegen zijn vroegere pacifistische vrienden.
'...Als de romantrilogie voltooid is, heeft de moderne Britse literatuur er een monumentaal werk bij...'
De Volkskrant
'...een verbijsterend origineel stuk fictie, geënt op feiten. Geschreven in een intense, objectieve, volmaakt beheerste stijl../
The Sunday Telegraph
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0452272726, Paperback)

The Eye in the Door is the second installation of Pat Barker's acclaimed and haunting historical fiction trilogy about British soldiers traumatized by World War I trench warfare and the methods used by psychiatrist William Rivers to treat them. As with the other two, the book was recognized with awards, winning the 1993 Guardian Fiction Prize. Here, Lieutenant Billy Prior is tormented by figuring out which side of several coins does he live -- coward or hero, crazy or sane, homosexual or heterosexual, upper class or lower. He represents the upheaval in Britain during the war and the severe trauma felt by its soldiers. The writing is sparse yet multilayered; Barker uses the lives of a few to capture an entire society during a tumultuous period.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:20 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

In the spring of 1918. On the battlefields of France, a mammoth German offensive threatens the English army with defeat. In England itself, a beleaguered government and panic-stricken, vengeful public seek scapegoats. Two groups are targeted for persecution and prosecution: pacifists and homosexuals. Many are jailed, others lead dangerous double lives; and "the eye in the door" becomes a symbol of the paranoia that threatens to destroy the very fabric of British society. Central to this novel is Lieutenant Billy Prior, recently released from treatment for shell shock by psychiatrist Dr. William Rivers. Prior is in London, assigned to a domestic Intelligence unit. His position demands that he investigate an imprisoned female pacifist accused of plotting a political assassination - a woman who raised him as a child, and who now accuses him of betraying that childhood. At the same time, he has had a casual but intense sexual encounter with a fellow patient of Dr. Rivers - Charles Manning, an upperclass officer whose social status and battlefield wounds must shield him from the growing danger of his exposure as a homosexual. Billy Prior is the man in the middle: a child of the working class raised to the rank of officer and gentleman; a soldier scarred by the horror of war but loyal to the men in the trenches; a bisexual of omnivorous appetites and withered emotions; and above all, a human being who feels himself torn in two as he is asked to take sides.… (more)

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