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Regeneration (novel)

Regeneration (novel)

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For the 1997 film adaptation of the novel see Regeneration (1997 film)
Regeneration (1997 film)
Regeneration is a 1997 film adaptation of the novel of the same name by Pat Barker. The film is directed by Gillies MacKinnon. It was released as Behind the Lines in the USA in 1998.-Plot:...

.


Regeneration is a prize-winning novel
Novel
A novel is a book of long narrative in literary prose. The genre has historical roots both in the fields of the medieval and early modern romance and in the tradition of the novella. The latter supplied the present generic term in the late 18th century....

 by Pat Barker
Pat Barker
Pat Barker CBE, FRSL is an English writer and novelist. She has won many awards for her fiction, which centres around themes of memory, trauma, survival and recovery. Her work is described as direct, blunt and plainspoken.-Personal life:...

, first published in 1991. The novel was a Booker Prize nominee and was described by the New York Times Book Review as one of the four best novels of the year in its year of publication. It is the first of three novels in the Regeneration Trilogy
Regeneration Trilogy
The Regeneration Trilogy is a series of three novels by Pat Barker on the subject of the First World War.* Regeneration * The Eye in the Door * The Ghost Road...

of novels on the First World War, the other two being The Eye in the Door
The Eye in the Door
The Eye in the Door is a novel by Pat Barker, first published in 1993, and forming the second part of the Regeneration trilogy.The Eye in the Door is set in London, beginning in mid-April, 1918, and continues the interwoven stories of Dr William Rivers, Billy Prior, and Siegfried Sassoon begun in...

and The Ghost Road
The Ghost Road
The Ghost Road is a novel by Pat Barker, first published in 1995 and winner of the Booker Prize. It is the third volume of a trilogy that follows the fortunes of shell-shocked British army officers towards the end of the First World War...

which won the Booker Prize in 1995. The novel is based on the real-life experiences of British army officers being treated for shell shock
Shell Shock
Shell Shock, also known as 82nd Marines Attack was a 1964 film by B-movie director John Hayes. The film takes place in Italy during World War II, and tells the story of a sergeant with his group of soldiers....

 during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 at Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh
Edinburgh
Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, the second largest city in Scotland, and the eighth most populous in the United Kingdom. The City of Edinburgh Council governs one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas. The council area includes urban Edinburgh and a rural area...

.

Barker attributes the immediate inspiration for Regeneration to her husband, a neurologist familiar with the writings of Dr. W.H.R. Rivers and his experiments with nerve regeneration.

Part I


The novel begins with Dr. W.H.R. Rivers, an army psychiatrist at Craiglockhart War Hospital (a mental institution at the time), reading poet Siegfried Sassoon
Siegfried Sassoon
Siegfried Loraine Sassoon CBE MC was an English poet, author and soldier. Decorated for bravery on the Western Front, he became one of the leading poets of the First World War. His poetry both described the horrors of the trenches, and satirised the patriotic pretensions of those who, in Sassoon's...

’s declaration against the continuation of the war. Sassoon’s "wilful defiance of military authority" has led to Sassoon being labelled "shell-shocked", a label which the authorities hope will discredit his views on the continuation of the war. Rivers states that he feels uneasy about Sassoon entering Craiglockhart, doubting that he is shell-shocked; he is uncomfortable about the prospect of sheltering a "conchie
Conscientious objector
A conscientious objector is an "individual who has claimed the right to refuse to perform military service" on the grounds of freedom of thought, conscience, and/or religion....

".

Sassoon’s friend and fellow poet Robert Graves
Robert Graves
Robert von Ranke Graves 24 July 1895 – 7 December 1985 was an English poet, translator and novelist. During his long life he produced more than 140 works...

 advises Sassoon to give up his protest against the war; although he shares Sassoon’s feelings he still feels it would be impossible to stop the war. Sassoon had hoped for a court-martial
Court-martial
A court-martial is a military court. A court-martial is empowered to determine the guilt of members of the armed forces subject to military law, and, if the defendant is found guilty, to decide upon punishment.Most militaries maintain a court-martial system to try cases in which a breach of...

 so that his views could be publicly aired, but Graves, thinking that he is helping, manages to persuade a Medical Board that Sassoon should be sent to Craiglockhart instead.

Rivers meets Sassoon and their discussion demonstrates that while Sassoon objects to the sheer horror of the war, he does not have any religious objection to fighting. Rivers warns Sassoon that since his job is to return Sassoon to combat, he cannot therefore claim to remain neutral. This troubles Rivers, as he knows the horrors soldiers suffer when sent back. Sassoon struggles with the idea that he is safe in Craiglockhart while others are dying.

The opening chapters of the novel describe the suffering of soldiers in the hospital. Anderson, a former surgeon, now cannot stand the sight of blood. Burns has been crushed by the war and has terrible hallucinations after being thrown into the air and landing head first in the ruptured stomach of a rotting dead soldier by a shell, which causes him to vomit whenever he eats anything. In one particular scene, Anderson struggles with nightmares about losing a bet to a former comrade, which Rivers is unable to interpret.

Another patient, Prior, suffers from mutism and will only talk to Rivers through the use of a notepad. Prior eventually regains his voice but remains a difficult patient for Rivers as he does not wish to discuss his memories of the war. Prior is visited by his father, an unlikeable man who beat his wife and emotionally abused his son.

The last chapters of the first section of Regeneration deal with the ideas of class. Prior states that there are class distinctions in the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 even during times of war.

Part II


Sassoon meets Wilfred Owen
Wilfred Owen
Wilfred Edward Salter Owen MC was an English poet and soldier, one of the leading poets of the First World War...

, a young man who also writes poetry. He asks Sassoon to sign some copies of his work and Sassoon offers to review Owen's poetry. Sassoon goes off to play golf with Anderson and Prior goes into Edinburgh and meets a girl called Sarah Lumb whose boyfriend was killed at the Battle of Loos
Battle of Loos
The Battle of Loos was one of the major British offensives mounted on the Western Front in 1915 during World War I. It marked the first time the British used poison gas during the war, and is also famous for the fact that it witnessed the first large-scale use of 'new' or Kitchener's Army...

. They come close to having sex, but Sarah pushes Prior away at the last minute.

Prior’s absence from Craiglockhart causes him to be confined to the hospital for two weeks as punishment. Rivers admits that it may be a good idea to now try hypnosis
Hypnosis
Hypnosis is "a trance state characterized by extreme suggestibility, relaxation and heightened imagination."It is a mental state or imaginative role-enactment . It is usually induced by a procedure known as a hypnotic induction, which is commonly composed of a long series of preliminary...

 on Prior. This hypnosis causes Prior to remember the gruesome death of two soldiers in his platoon.

A new patient, Willard, is examined by Rivers. Willard was injured in a graveyard when, under heavy fire, parts of a gravestone were shot into his buttocks. While there is nothing preventing Willard from walking he insists that there is an injury to his spine.

Sassoon visits the Conservative Club
Gentlemen's club
A gentlemen's club is a members-only private club of a type originally set up by and for British upper class men in the eighteenth century, and popularised by English upper-middle class men and women in the late nineteenth century. Today, some are more open about the gender and social status of...

 with Rivers, who notices that Sassoon is depressed after learning of the deaths of two close friends. He realizes that it will not be difficult to convince Sassoon to continue fighting but does not want to force Sassoon because Rivers realizes that Sassoon will eventually want to return to the fight on his own.

Later Owen and Sassoon talk in Sassoon’s room. Sassoon gives Owen some poetry to publish in the hospital magazine The Hydra
The Hydra
The Hydra was a magazine produced by the patients of the Craiglockhart War Hospital, noteworthy for having been edited at one time by Wilfred Owen, and for including poems by Siegfried Sassoon....

. In exchange for Owen publishing some of his own work Sassoon agrees to mentor Owen on his poetry.

Prior goes into town to meet Sarah and explains why he did not show up for their arranged meeting. They take a train to the seaside
Seashore
-Landform:* Coast* Intertidal zone, between high and low water lines* National seashore, a special designation in the United States* Shore-Other:* Seashore , an open source image editor, based on GIMP written in Cocoa for Mac OS X...

 and walk along the beach together. Prior explains to Sarah how he has to censor
Censorship
thumb|[[Book burning]] following the [[1973 Chilean coup d'état|1973 coup]] that installed the [[Military government of Chile |Pinochet regime]] in Chile...

 the letters of soldiers before they are sent home. He is eager to return to France as he feels unable to relate to anyone back home – he feels as though only fellow soldiers understand his emotions and experiences. He and Sarah get caught in a storm and later have sex in a bush. On the train back to town Prior has an asthma attack.

Rivers, suffering from exhaustion, is ordered to take three weeks holiday from his work at Craiglockhart. As a storm sounds outside Sassoon and Owen work on poetry together. Rivers' departure resurrects for Sassoon his feelings of abandonment
Abandonment
The term abandonment has a multitude of uses, legal and extra-legal. This "signpost article" provides a guide to the various legal and quasi-legal uses of the word and includes links to articles that deal with each of the distinct concepts at greater length...

 when his father left him, and he realises that Rivers has taken the place of his father.

Part III


Part III of the novel begins with Rivers attending church with his family. He compares the biblical story of Abraham sacrificing his son Isaac
Binding of Isaac
The Binding of Isaac Akedah or Akeidat Yitzchak in Hebrew and Dhabih in Arabic, is a story from the Hebrew Bible in which God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, on Mount Moriah...

 with the war where soldiers are sacrificing each other. This is an allusion to Wilfred Owen's Parable of the Old Man and the Young; Barker makes use of the poem's central metaphor and actually quotes its final line: "And half the seed of Europe, one by one."

Rivers recalls the visits of Charles Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll, to his family home as a child.

Back at Craiglockhart Sassoon helps Owen draft one of his most famous poems, "Anthem for Doomed Youth."

Sarah accompanies her friend Madge to a local hospital so Madge can visit her fiance who has been wounded. Sarah gets lost and walks into a tent filled with injured amputee soldiers. She is angry at her shocked reaction as well as the fact that society hides these injured soldiers away.

Prior is examined by a medical board. Prior fears that they suspect he is faking illness and want to send him back to war.

Rivers meets with some old friends, Ruth and Henry Head, who discuss Sassoon. Rivers suggests that it is right that Sassoon has the freedom to disagree with the war. However, Rivers realizes that it is his job to make Sassoon return to war. At the end of their conversation Head offers Rivers a top job in London. Although it is a career leap, Rivers is unsure whether he should take it.

Burns, who has since been discharged, invites Rivers to visit him at his seaside home in Suffolk. Rivers expects to talk to Burns' parents about his condition and is surprised to discover that Burns is alone. They spend a few days together with Rivers not bringing up the topic of the war. One night when there is a severe storm Burns walks outside and hides in a tunnel which floods at high tide, suffering flashbacks to his experiences with trench warfare
Trench warfare
Trench warfare is a form of occupied fighting lines, consisting largely of trenches, in which troops are largely immune to the enemy's small arms fire and are substantially sheltered from artillery...

 in France. The trauma causes Burns to finally open up and talk about his experiences of war. He describes to Rivers the sheer horror he felt when taking part in the Battle of the Somme and how he hoped he would suffer a minor injury so he could be sent home.

When Rivers returns to Craiglockhart he tells Bryce that he will take the job in London. In another appointment Sassoon has with Rivers, Sassoon describes how he has been having hallucinations of dead friends knocking on his door. Sassoon admits he feels guilty about not serving with his friends and decides he should return to the front. Rivers is pleased with his decision but at the same time worries about what may happen to him there.

Part IV


Sarah tells her mother, Ada, about her relationship with Billy Prior. Ada scolds her daughter for having sex so soon in a relationship; she reminds Sarah that contraception is not always reliable (repeating a story that every tenth condom
Condom
A condom is a barrier device most commonly used during sexual intercourse to reduce the probability of pregnancy and spreading sexually transmitted diseases . It is put on a man's erect penis and physically blocks ejaculated semen from entering the body of a sexual partner...

 is purposely defective) and states that true love between a man and a woman does not exist.

Sassoon meets his friend Graves and tells him of his decision to return to war. Graves lectures Sassoon on the importance of people maintaining their word. Graves then tells Sassoon about a mutual friend, Peter, who has been arrested for prostitution
Prostitution
Prostitution is the act or practice of providing sexual services to another person in return for payment. The person who receives payment for sexual services is called a prostitute and the person who receives such services is known by a multitude of terms, including a "john". Prostitution is one of...

 and is being sent to Rivers to "cure" his homosexuality. Graves stresses that he himself is now writing to a girl called Nancy, implying that he is not homosexual. This leaves Sassoon feeling 'like a precipice on a country road.'

The girls at the munitions factory joke that many of the men serving are gay. When Sarah asks why one munitions worker called Betty is not there, Lizzie replies that Betty is in the hospital seriously ill after attempting a home abortion
Self-induced abortion
A self-induced abortion is an abortion performed by the pregnant woman herself outside the recognized medical system. Although the term can include abortions induced through legal, over-the-counter medication, it also refers to efforts to terminate a pregnancy through alternative, often more...

 with a coat-hanger.

Sassoon talks to Rivers before he is sent back to France and they discuss Peter and the larger question of the official attitude towards homosexuality. Rivers theorizes that during wartime the authorities are particularly hard on homosexuality, wanting to clearly distinguish between the 'right' kind of love between men (loyalty, brotherhood, team spirit), which is beneficial to soldiers, and the 'wrong' kind (sexual).

The Board meets to review the cases of various soldiers and decide on their fitness for combat. They decide that Prior should have permanent home service due to his asthma. Prior breaks down at this news, fearing that he will be seen as a coward and ashamed that he will not be able to return to war and find out what calibre of soldier he is. Sassoon tires of waiting for his turn to see the Board and leaves to have dinner with friends. Rivers, angry at this flippant behavior, demands an explanation, at which Sassoon apologises and admits that he was afraid. Sassoon assures Rivers that although his views of the war have not changed and he still stands by his "Declaration," he does want to return to France.

Prior and Sarah meet again and admit their love for one another. Sassoon and Owen talk in the Conservative Club about how awful it will be in Craiglockhart for Sassoon without Rivers or Owen there; Owen is deeply affected by his departure.

Rivers spends his last day saying goodbye to patients, then travels to London and meets Dr. Yealland from the National Hospital, who will be his colleague in his new position. Dr. Yealland uses electro-shock therapy
Electroconvulsive therapy
Electroconvulsive therapy , formerly known as electroshock, is a psychiatric treatment in which seizures are electrically induced in anesthetized patients for therapeutic effect. Its mode of action is unknown...

 to force patients to quickly recover from shell-shock; he believes that some patients do not want to be cured and that pain is the best method of curing these reluctant patients. In a horrifying scene Yealland demonstrates his brutal method of 'treatment' which is vastly different from Rivers' and which makes Rivers question whether he can work with such a man.

Sassoon is released for combat duty and Willard walks again. Anderson is given a staff job. Sassoon comments to Rivers that Owen’s feelings towards Sassoon may be something more than mere hero worship
Hero worship
Hero worship is defined as the foolish or excessive adulation for an individual. In Wikipedia, you may be searching for:*Hero Worship , an album released by Sandra Bernhard*Hero Worship...

.

Rivers completes his notes, meditating on the effect that Sassoon, and the last few months, have had on him.

Characters


Siegfried Sassoon
Siegfried Sassoon
Siegfried Loraine Sassoon CBE MC was an English poet, author and soldier. Decorated for bravery on the Western Front, he became one of the leading poets of the First World War. His poetry both described the horrors of the trenches, and satirised the patriotic pretensions of those who, in Sassoon's...

– The fictional Siegfried Sassoon is closely based on the real Sassoon. Sassoon's father abandoned the family and died shortly afterwards, when Sassoon was still a child. In parts of the novel Rivers is portrayed as a paternal figure to Sassoon, which reflects their real-life relationship. Despite the fact that Sassoon was a decorated soldier, his experiences in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 caused him to turn against the war. Although he eventually returns to the front, Barker gives the impression that Sassoon does not sacrifice his opposition to the war. Sassoon was a latent homosexual.

Dr. W.H.R. Rivers – A character based upon the real life W. H. R. Rivers
W. H. R. Rivers
William Halse Rivers Rivers, FRCP, FRS, was an English anthropologist, neurologist, ethnologist and psychiatrist, best known for his work with shell-shocked soldiers during World War I. Rivers' most famous patient was the poet Siegfried Sassoon...

 who worked at Craiglockhart War Hospital between 1916–1917 and was a treating physician for Siegfried Sassoon. Rivers has a stammer which he finds difficult to control despite the fact that his father was a speech therapist. Rivers studies anthropology, and the novel describes how he researched nerve regeneration with a friend, Henry Head
Henry Head
Sir Henry Head, FRS was an English neurologist who conducted pioneering work into the somatosensory system and sensory nerves. Much of this work was conducted on himself, in collaboration with the psychiatrist W. H. R. Rivers, by severing and reconnecting sensory nerves and mapping how sensation...

. Rivers suffers throughout the novel from the moral dilemma that he is treating soldiers in order that they can return to war. He watches the harsh methods used by Dr. Lewis Yealland
Lewis Yealland
Lewis Ralph Yealland was a Canadian-born therapist who came to Britain to practise medicine during the First World War and was at the forefront of experimental shock techniques to treat shell shock.-War work:...

 to treat patients and asks whether his methods are just as painful for his patients.

Billy Prior- Prior is one of the few fictional characters in the book. Prior is a soldier at Craiglockhart who suffers from mutism and asthma. Prior is a difficult character for Rivers to deal with as he often reflects Rivers's own dilemmas and insecurities. Prior is a working-class officer who has risen to the rank of lieutenant despite his background. He sees the British army mirroring the class system even in the trenches. Prior appears envious of those who are not involved in the war experience, such as his love interest in the novel, Sarah. In the later novels of the Regeneration Trilogy
Regeneration Trilogy
The Regeneration Trilogy is a series of three novels by Pat Barker on the subject of the First World War.* Regeneration * The Eye in the Door * The Ghost Road...

we learn of that Prior is a bisexual, but this is not apparent in the first novel.

David Burns – David Burns is another patient at Craiglockhart War Hospital, a fictionalised version of one of Rivers's real patients. Burns has been unable to eat after a bomb explosion forced him into the gas filled belly of a corpse, resulting in his digestion of the rotting flesh. Rivers describes the incident as turning the young officer who rose to the rank of captain into a "fossilized schoolboy".
Wilfred Owen
Wilfred Owen
Wilfred Edward Salter Owen MC was an English poet and soldier, one of the leading poets of the First World War...

- Owen is another character based upon a real-life poet. Wilfred Owen is considered one of the great poets of World War I. He died in 1918 just before the end of the war. Barker depicts Owen as initially unsure of the standard of his own poetry. His sexuality is also questioned, as Sassoon comments that Owen's feelings towards him seem to extend further than mere hero-worship.

Anderson – Anderson is another patient at Craiglockhart War hospital. Once a surgeon, Anderson’s experiences of war have made it impossible to continue practising medicine because he now hates the sight of blood after experiencing a mental breakdown.

Sarah Lumb – Sarah is a completely fictional character. The girlfriend of the character Billy Prior, she is working-class, "Geordie", and works in a munitions factory in Scotland producing armaments for British soldiers. Ada Lumb, her mother, appears briefly and has a very hardened attitude towards love and relationships.

Dr. Lewis Yealland
Lewis Yealland
Lewis Ralph Yealland was a Canadian-born therapist who came to Britain to practise medicine during the First World War and was at the forefront of experimental shock techniques to treat shell shock.-War work:...

– A foil to Rivers, Yealland is based on a doctor of that name at the National Hospital in London who used electro-shock therapy to treat his patients. Yealland is portrayed as arrogant and uncaring. He believes that the characters that breakdown during the war are “weak” and says that they would break down in civilian life anyway.

Callan – Callan is a patient of Dr. Yealland who has served in every major battle in World War I. He finds himself in the care of Dr. Yealland after suffering from mutism. Callan tries to fight against his doctor's treatment but eventually gives in to it.

Robert Graves
Robert Graves
Robert von Ranke Graves 24 July 1895 – 7 December 1985 was an English poet, translator and novelist. During his long life he produced more than 140 works...

– Another real life character, Graves is a fellow poet and friend of Sassoon who sees the war as unjust and immoral. However, Graves does not want to make his life more difficult by protesting. Graves sees it as his duty to serve his country regardless of his own moral beliefs.

Madness


Madness is a key idea in Regeneration. Madness is exhibited through symptoms such as mutism, fear of blood, and Sassoon's angry anti-war declaration. Because such behavior is deemed unacceptable Sassoon is given the label "shell-shocked" to discredit his views. For many of the characters in Regeneration attempting to treat their symptoms only serves to make them worse. Rivers eventually questions whether it is "mad" for these soldiers to have broken down in war or to blindly follow the orders which they are given. Rivers also questions whether it is right to treat this "madness" only to send soldiers back to the war which made them mad in the first place.

Homosexuality


Love between men is another theme explored. In war the bond between men is a desired quality, and Sassoon is condemned for the love that he shows towards his fellow men. However, Rivers makes it clear to Sassoon that outside of war his homosexuality is considered unacceptable to much of society and could be used to discredit his views on the war. Rivers suggests that people’s views may be more intolerant in wartime than peacetime.

Masculinity


The idea of a loss of masculinity runs throughout the novel. Anderson has dreams where he wears female corsets; Rivers contemplates the feminine qualities needed for his caring profession. Sassoon describes a male soldier who loses his genitals in a war accident and also contemplates the idea of an "intermediate sex"; the boundaries between the two traditional genders are becoming increasingly blurred as soldiers begin to lose the qualities which are, for them, essential in their identity as 'men'. Rivers also remarks on the fact that soldiers serving in the trenches – confined, powerless, forced to do nothing for long stretches despite intense stress – suffer similar symptoms as do women during peace-time. The fact that some of the women in the novel now work in factories also shows the blurring of gender lines; this would never have occurred before the war.

Parenthood


Parenthood is explored at several points during the novel. One is the caring relationship between Rivers and the men under his command. Many patients also refer to Rivers as a father figure; one of River's former patients, Layard, refers to Rivers as a "male mother". It is through this compassion that the soldiers are able to "regenerate" – the motif of the novel from which the title is taken. Rivers explores the fact that his role in helping the soldiers to express their painful experiences means that he requires the skills and traits typical of a woman. He dislikes the idea that nurturing is a uniquely female trait. Rivers also throughout the novel is constantly trying to be a 'fatherly figure' to his patients. This is emphasized by the job that he does.

Entrapment


This is a theme brought up many times in Regeneration, usually metaphorically. Through use of windows and light, Barker explains the feeling of Sassoon and certain other characters of being trapped inside Craiglockhart (and occasionally other settings such as the train).

Freud in Regeneration

  • Rivers was influenced by the writings of Freud on neurosis
    Neurosis
    Neurosis is a class of functional mental disorders involving distress but neither delusions nor hallucinations, whereby behavior is not outside socially acceptable norms. It is also known as psychoneurosis or neurotic disorder, and thus those suffering from it are said to be neurotic...

    . While Rivers disagreed that neurosis was due to sexual factors he considered Freud's work to be of "direct practical use in diagnosis and treatment". Rivers felt that Freud was right that his patients actively suppressed their experiences of war. Freud's ideas emphasised dreams, sexuality, and parental issues.
  • At Craiglockhart
    Craiglockhart
    Craiglockhart is a suburb in the south west of Edinburgh, Scotland, lying between Colinton to the south, Morningside to the east Merchiston to the north east and Kingsknowe to the west...

    , a hospital only for officers rather than ordinary privates, patients were encouraged to talk about their experiences of war rather than suppress them. Some in Regeneration were unwilling to do this. This treatment was pioneered by Freud.

Allusions/References to other works

  • The real Rivers writes about Sassoon, giving him the alias "Patient B" in his book Conflict and Dreams.
  • Sassoon refers to Edward Carpenter's
    Edward Carpenter
    Edward Carpenter was an English socialist poet, socialist philosopher, anthologist, and early gay activist....

     writing on sexuality The Intermediate Sex. It is implied that Sassoon is a homosexual as he states that writings made him feel normal about his sexuality.
  • The women in the bar, including Sarah Lumb, are based on characters from a scene in T.S. Eliot's The Wasteland.
  • Prior reads one of River's anthropological studies The Todas.
  • Owen makes reference to Craiglockhart's publication The Hydra
    The Hydra
    The Hydra was a magazine produced by the patients of the Craiglockhart War Hospital, noteworthy for having been edited at one time by Wilfred Owen, and for including poems by Siegfried Sassoon....

    .
  • Reference is made to The Importance of Being Earnest
    The Importance of Being Earnest
    The Importance of Being Earnest, A Trivial Comedy for Serious People is a play by Oscar Wilde. First performed on 14 February 1895 at St. James's Theatre in London, it is a farcical comedy in which the protagonists maintain fictitious personae in order to escape burdensome social obligations...

    character Lady Bracknell, and there is mention of the play's author, Oscar Wilde
    Oscar Wilde
    Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish writer and poet. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of London's most popular playwrights in the early 1890s...

    .

Pat Barker's views


Barker stated in an interview with Wera Resch that "The trilogy is trying to tell something about the parts of war that don't get into the official accounts". She goes on to state that "One of the things that impresses me is that two things happen to soldiers in war: a) they get killed or b) they come back more or less alright. It's really focusing on the people who do come back but don't come back alright, they are either physically disabled or mentally traumatised."

Barker states that she chose to write about World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

"because it's come to stand in for other wars, as a sort of idealism of the young people in August 1914 in Germany and in England. They really felt this was the start of a better world. And the disillusionment, the horror and the pain followed that. I think because of that it's come to stand for the pain of all wars."

On the role of women in her books Barker states that "In a lot of books about war by men the women are totally silenced. The men go off and fight and the women stay at home and cry; basically, this is the typical feature. And the women in the trilogy are always deeply significant, and whatever they say in whatever language they say it in, it is always meant to be listened to very carefully." Barker points out that the women in the munitions factories were expected to produce weapons to kill thousands, but a woman who attempts to abort her unborn child is criticised.

Further reading

  • Continuum Compemporaries: Pat Barker's Regeneration by Karin Westman (ISBN 0-8264-5320-2)
  • An interview with Pat Barker on the Regeneration novels
  • Freud and war neurosis in Regeneration
  • The Todas, anthropological work by W.H.R. Rivers

External links