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Regeneration (1991)

by Pat Barker

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Regeneration (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,0231012,233 (4.02)654
Stressed by the war, poet, pacifist, and protestor Siegfried Sassoon is sent to Craiglockhart Hospital, where his views challenge the patriotic vision of Dr. William Rivers, a neurologist assigned to restore the sanity of shell-shocked soldiers.
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    pellethepoet: Brief biography of Dr. Rivers, the psychiatrist who treated Siegfried Sassoon at Craiglockhart War Hospital

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» See also 654 mentions

English (93)  Dutch (4)  German (2)  Finnish (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (101)
Showing 1-5 of 93 (next | show all)
The author offers an accurate depiction of shell shock during the First World War.

She carefully sets out the tragedy of pacifist Siegfried Sassoon as he is classified as normal again
and sent back to France fo fight and die in a senseless slaughter. ( )
  m.belljackson | Feb 1, 2021 |
A great start and can't wait to read the others in the trilogy. This comes at the First World War from the point of view of those back in the UK suffering mental health problems, and the doctor trying to help them. It has a light touch for something dealing with such serious topics and an intriguing mix of fact and fiction. ( )
  AlisonSakai | Jan 13, 2021 |
Love her writing style! Thought she handled the horrific subject matter frankly and without sugarcoating. ( )
  DrFuriosa | Dec 4, 2020 |
A Book About War*

The Author's Notes at the end of my copy of Regeneration discuss the intermingling of and need to separate the actual people from the fictional characters in the novel as an aide to the reader. From what I can tell, all of the main characters save one was a real person, and after reading it I'm unclear what parts of the novel are truly fictional. I think this book would be well served by a preface from someone other than the author clearly delineating the fictional events more than the characters.

The story revolves around several patients at Craiglockhart, a British hospital treating combat veterans suffering shell shock, and one of the doctors practicing there, H.W.R. Rivers. One of the patients, Seigfried Sassoon, is a conscientious objector who, while perturbed by his war experiences, is not truly suffering shell shock. Both Rivers and Sassoon were actual people. As the story progresses, Rivers suffers his own version of shell shock even as he cures several of his patients of it. This role reversal is the part I struggled most with, as he seems to be imbued with thoughts and emotions more apropos of the time the book was written than the time during which it occurred. There are several authorial intrusions into the narrative, and in the end I felt that she was depicting Rivers as healed from his incorrect objective of curing soldiers to return to combat.

For a Booker Award nominated book, the writing is hit and miss. It has wonderful imagery, such as one soldier's girlfriend who bears an aureole of hair surrounding her yellow-tinged skin (a condition she has acquired working in a munitions factory) that makes her appear both as a savior and a death-head, and a discussion of a chrysalis as a symbol of decay rather than transformation. There are also times Barker intrudes into the narrative and tells the reader what to feel rather than letting her images do the work. I particularly struggled with her description of an event in a rather trite dream sequence as an "oral rape" and an out-of-place reference to American slavery when discussing the same dream. There were also multiple unexplained details, such as a soldier being given two white feathers when he first appears in public in civilian clothes, which evoke the period well but are lost without the benefit of google.

The book contains little in the way of suspense in its plot; we know that Sassoon will be sent back to France essentially from the opening pages. While the traumas suffered by the patients are truly awful, their analysis from Rivers' sympathetic viewpoint removes much of the horror and makes them feel antiseptic at times. I think Regeneration is worth reading, but there are better books about the Great War and wonder whether it was always envisioned as the first book in a trilogy and so is diminished by that.

* - I've had to set my themed reading list aside for now, as I'm taking a couple literature classes this summer through a state program that provides free tuition for Texas residents over 55. This novel is assigned for my War and Literature class that's focused on the First World War. ( )
  skavlanj | May 28, 2020 |
Just incredible. So vivid. Really human perspective on the First World War. I absolutely loved it, and can't recommend it enough. ( )
  RFellows | Apr 29, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 93 (next | show all)

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Barker, Patprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alsberg, RebeccaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
宋瑛堂Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Crossley, StevenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ferrer, IsabelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fienbork, MatthiasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Firth, PeterNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gobetti, NormanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gourand, JocelyneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hammar, ErikNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hansen, Fjord TrierNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Μαγκλίνης, ΗλίαςTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kim, LuciaCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kofod, Jens-JørgenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Krasińska, EwaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Møller-Madsen, LisbethTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McGann, PaulNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nevinson, CRWCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pleitgen, UlrichNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Soler, Carlos MillaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
van Dijk, EdithTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zsuzsa, N. KissTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
בארקר, פאטTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For David, and in loving memory of

Dr John Hawkings (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.
Anna didn't believe in love. She thought when a man loved a woman it was as the fox loves the hare, and when a woman loved a man it was as a tapeworm loves the gut.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Stressed by the war, poet, pacifist, and protestor Siegfried Sassoon is sent to Craiglockhart Hospital, where his views challenge the patriotic vision of Dr. William Rivers, a neurologist assigned to restore the sanity of shell-shocked soldiers.

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Pat Barker's Regeneration is the opening salvo in her trilogy of novels about the young men who fought in the First World War, the third of which--The Ghost Road--won the 1995 Booker Prize. Based on the real life meeting between the poet and anti-war protestor Siegfried Sassoon and army psychologist W. H. R. Rivers in 1917, Regeneration is a vivid evocation of the agony of the Front as well as a powerful anthem for doomed youth.
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Average: (4.02)
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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141030933, 0141045523

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