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The Regeneration Trilogy

by Pat Barker

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Regeneration (1-3)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7021425,192 (4.34)65
Pat Barker's award-winning Regeneration Trilogy - comprising Regeneration, The Eye in the Doorand The Ghost Road- is the heart-rending story of the last two years of the First World War seen through the eyes of army psychologist William Rivers and damaged soldier Billy Prior. As Rivers struggles with the responsibility of helping the men in his charge - including the traumatized poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen - only to see them returned to the front, we see how an entire generation of young men was brutalized by the horrors of the trenches. 'What Barker does in The Regeneration Trilogy is explore with gritty realism - and absolute clarity of vision - the whole dirty, glorious and horrifying business of war.' Sunday Telegraph'A new vision of what the First World War did to human beings, male and female, soldiers and civilians.' A. S. Byatt, Daily Telegraph 'I'm convinced the trilogy will win recognition as one of the few real masterpieces of late twentieth-century British fiction.' Jonathan Coe 'One of the richest and most rewarding works of fiction of recent times.' The Times Literary Supplement… (more)
  1. 00
    The Ballroom by Anna Hope (charl08)
    charl08: Novels explore institutional life before psychiatric drugs.
  2. 00
    River of Darkness by Rennie Airth (ehines)
    ehines: Airth's is much the lesser novel, but deals with the same period and many of the same issues within its less ambitious design.
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» See also 65 mentions

English (12)  Dutch (2)  All languages (14)
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
Regeneration
The forthcoming anniversary of the Great War should provide some motivation for readers to revisit, or discover this trilogy from the nineties. Acclaimed at the time (topped off by a Booker Prize for the last in the series The Ghost Road) it has been on my 'to read' list for many years. The story centres around an institution for mentally ill soldiers near Edinburgh, and psychologist W H Rivers. A particular focus is his relationship with patient Siegfried Sassoon and the moral conflict between his support for the war and the damage he sees in his patients.
The book sometimes feels a bit lacking in incident and plot mobility, but beautifully draws its characters. Pat Barker's research must have been detailed as her insight into the psychological treatment of the time as well as the maladies feels quite authentic. The setting is a really interesting way of exploring the consequences of the war rather than through a traditional battlefield context.
Not always an easy read the book is rewarding and insightful, and cleverly intertwines the main theme of wartime trauma and suffering with explorations of masculinity and the role of women in wartime. ( )
1 vote bevok | Jul 31, 2017 |
Interesting but I'm left somewhat let down by this one, I didn't really engage with anyone and I'm not sure I was supposed to, every time I started to get to know them I was whisked off to someone else's moment in the sun. Lots of homosexual and the odd hetrosexual encounter and sometimes I felt it was a bit more than I wanted or needed for the story, the sex felt somewhat tacked in sometimes, not a smooth flow from events.

A different view of what went on, the first book focuses on the asylum and later things move to London and to a horrible waste of humanity that was the end of the war.

Worth reading but not a story that made me feel for the characters. ( )
  wyvernfriend | Sep 15, 2016 |
Audible. Three books on World War 1. Based on true story that includes Siegried Sasoon and Wilfred Owen (both poets) and Dr. Rivers (a doctor treating the soldiers for 'shell shock' who believes in talk cure ala Freud rather than shock therapy). Pat Barker is a very good author. This book allows her to explore the intertwining of stories about World War 1, poetry, Freudian theory, issues involving gays in the World War 1 period, and early 20th century anthroplogy. The 'invented' character's life intertwines with those of the 'historical' one. This is really a wonderful set of books I would recommend. Pat Barker is always reliable. ( )
  idiotgirl | Dec 26, 2015 |
Read for the January 2014 "New Beginnings" theme read" of the Reading Through Time group.

The title "Regeneration" inspired my thought of "renewal," though the "regeneration" involved is perhaps metaphorical. The title takes its name from Dr. W.H.R. Rivers, who had done pre-WW1 work in nerve regeneration but was now, during the war, working as an army psychiatrist for shell-shocked patients, who include (among others) Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen (with Robert Graves making cameo appearances but not as a patient).

The trilogy is historical/biographical fiction, and it might have helped if I knew a bit more about the lives of Sassoon, Owen, and Graves, but Barker does an excellent job of giving the necessary fill-in on historical characters (especially on Rivers, who will probably not be at all known to contemporary readers).

Considering that the "regenerative" work done at Craiglockhart War Hospital was for the purpose of returning the patients to active combat, the "Regeneration" title is particularly ironic, especially considering Barker's own strongly expressed anti-war theme. ( )
  CurrerBell | Aug 16, 2015 |
An interesting premise, & certainly the core of the trilogy sticks to the concepts & issues surrounding the effects of World War One trench warfare had on that particular generation. There's more to this than just an expose or revelation about poor psychiatric care in that era, there's commentary on poetry, young masculinity, paternalism & ideologies. Good, but at times, almost lost in its pathos. Would I recommend this? To those with an interest, most definitely, but to the general reader? Well, if you have an interest in human relationships, their fragility & the effects of war, you'd probably get something worthwhile out of this. It isn't for all readers however, & if you're not sure, I'd advocate leaving alone, as it can be a trudge to the uninitiated. ( )
  aadyer | Aug 28, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Pat Barkerprimary authorall editionscalculated
宋瑛堂Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
van Dijk, EdithTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For David, and in loving memory of Dr. John Hawkins (1922-1987).
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I am making this statement as an act of wilful defiance of military authority, because I believe the war is being deliberately prolonged by those who have the power to end it.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Pat Barker's award-winning Regeneration Trilogy - comprising Regeneration, The Eye in the Doorand The Ghost Road- is the heart-rending story of the last two years of the First World War seen through the eyes of army psychologist William Rivers and damaged soldier Billy Prior. As Rivers struggles with the responsibility of helping the men in his charge - including the traumatized poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen - only to see them returned to the front, we see how an entire generation of young men was brutalized by the horrors of the trenches. 'What Barker does in The Regeneration Trilogy is explore with gritty realism - and absolute clarity of vision - the whole dirty, glorious and horrifying business of war.' Sunday Telegraph'A new vision of what the First World War did to human beings, male and female, soldiers and civilians.' A. S. Byatt, Daily Telegraph 'I'm convinced the trilogy will win recognition as one of the few real masterpieces of late twentieth-century British fiction.' Jonathan Coe 'One of the richest and most rewarding works of fiction of recent times.' The Times Literary Supplement

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