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Eye In The Door Hardcover – Dec 12 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton; 1st Edition edition (Dec 12 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525938087
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525938088
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 15.2 x 22.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 454 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,294,326 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Amazon

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.

From Publishers Weekly

British writer Barker's ability to invest what appears to be a simple narrative with many levels of meaning and to convey a harrowing story in spare, uncluttered prose was amply demonstrated in her acclaimed previous novel, Regeneration . This quietly powerful story begins in 1917, where Regeneration left off; the epigraph from The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde hints at what is to come, referring to "the two natures that contended in . . . my consciousness." Though not as flamboyant as Stevenson's protagonist(s), all the main characters here are leading double lives, some consciously, others as a result of traumatic experiences. Having been released from Craiglockhart War Hospital (where shell-shock victims are sent to convalesce), Lt. Billy Prior is still concealing his working-class origins. Assigned to the Intelligence Unit, he must betray the very people who sheltered him when he was young, and soon his conscious mind succumbs to the pressure. If Prior has "a foot on both sides of the fence," so has patrician Charles Manning, who must conceal his homosexuality. Even the director of Craiglockhart, W.H.R. Rivers (an eminent neurologist and social anthropologist in real life) suffers from a mysterious loss of visual memory, stemming from a buried incident in his youth. And poet Siegfried Sasson again struggles to reconcile his pacifist beliefs with his need to stand by his men in battle. As in the earlier book, Barker uses their interaction to illuminate the terrible effects of conflict, but here she broadens her canvas to include the conscientious objectors, socialists and homosexuals who were accused of treasonous behavior during WW I. The multi-suggestive title applies to the hysterial outcry against "outsiders"; the observation hole in the prison door, behind which pacifists are jailed; the "eye in the door of the mind" that triggers dissociated states; and the particulars of a notorious court case of 1917 in which a demented bigot, supported by a prominent MP, accused 47,000 Englishmen and women of homosexuality, which ostensibly made them vulnerable to German blackmail. Writing with cool understatement, Barker conveys with equal skill the desperation of men suffering from battlefield trauma, the subtle ramifications of class distinctions in a period of rapid social change and the quality of life in Britain's poverty-stricken industrial areas. As haunting as its predecessor, this moving antiwar novel is also a cautionary tale about the price of cultural conformity.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Format: Paperback
If you haven't read Regeneration, you are making a big mistake if you read The Eye in the Door before Regeneration. Regeneration sets the stage for The Eye in the Door and provides much background information that you need to appreciate this book.

Those who liked the first book in the Regeneration trilogy, Regeneration, will absolutely adore The Eye in the Door. The characters from Regeneration return, and you have a chance to find out the consequences of the treatments they received from Dr. William Rivers in Regeneration. Pat Barker builds on the tensions, damage, doubts, and despair of mid-World War I to show how much more desperate matters were for the British by the spring of 1918.

In developing these themes, Pat Barker does a masterful job of explaining how a soldier has to operate both by emotion and by objective distance in order to function. From there, she helps us use the crucible of war to see how that duality is important to everyday functioning for all people.

As the title indicates, the book builds on a central metaphor of everyone being under observation as doubts build about Britain's ability to win the war. Those on the margins are most under pressure and at greatest risk.

I thought that the portrayal of Lieutenant Billy Prior was brilliant. He comes across as the kind of complex, interesting character that can help us learn a lot about Ms. Barker's messages for us. The eye metaphor is nicely developed in the context of Billy's life.

Brava, Ms. Barker!
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Format: Paperback
THE EYE IN THE DOOR (spoilers)
Ms Barker's epigraph, a quote from Stevenson, sets the tone: "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."
I am hampered in critiquing the trilogy, since I've read only the first two works, REGENERATION and THE EYE IN THE DOOR. The first of these concentrates on the relation between the enlightened, humane Dr Rivers and the war hero/war protester Siegfried Sassoon, who has been labeled a war neurotic ("shell-shocked") in order to avoid confronting his rational case against the war. Both Rivers and Sassoon are historical characters who the author effectively fictionalizes (their dialogues, etc).
The second novel focuses on the relation between Rivers and Billy Prior, a relatively minor character in the first. The book is set on a wider stage than REGENERATION, which was confined to the (real) mental hospital of Craiglockhart in Scotland. Here we are in London, during the crisis produced by the initial success of the Germans' spring offensive in 1918. As happens during defeats, the search is on for scapegoats seen as undermining the war effort, groups like pacifists and ... who are seen as destroying the nation's "moral fiber." Ludicrously, the leading anti-... crusader, lays the blame on the Germans, who are said to have sent homosexual agents over before the war to corrupt English youth.
Billy Prior, on medical leave from the front, works for a counter-intelligence agency, but his loyalties are divided, since his earliest friends are pacifists and "conchies" (conscientious objectors).
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Format: Paperback
People existing against a war background-normal people doing normal things whilst shouldering the burden of their experiences, their fears and societies norms and expectations.
A lovely book that always has the lightest of touches in the darkest of moments. Nothing is simple and nothing is complicated, but everything is ambiguous and dwarfed by "the front" and what is expected.
The writing is always simple, but the ideas, concepts and dilemmas dealt with are complex and impossible to resolve. Class and duty are themes; the most interesting theme in my opinion is that of being a pacifist, a father figure to your men and a violent war hero simultaneously. (By the nature of things, war heroes are violent.)
My one regret is that I have only just realised that this book is part of a trilogy and that I have read it out of sequence... although on the positive side it means I have two more books to explore. I would strongly recommend this book; I have just gone and bought one of Sassoon's books as a direct result of it awakening school hood poems by him and Wilfred Owens.
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Format: Paperback
THE EYE IN THE DOOR is the second installment in Pat Barker's marvelous Regeneration trilogy. In this volume the principle characters of Dr. Rivers and Prior have left Criaglockhart War Hospital and are now living in London. Although Dr. Rivers has taken a new position treating shell-shock soldiers who have returned from the front in France, he continues to keep in touch and treat his former patients from Criaglockhart, especially Prior. Amidst the bombing and blackouts of wartime London, Prior continues to suffer from war neurosis as he embarks on solving a mystery that involves his childhood friends and acquaintances. He is confronted by England's societal fixation with fear and scapegoating of those who are believed to deter from the war effort (mainly war deserters and homosexuals). Individuals are often forced to hide their true attributes from society during this time of societal finger pointing and blaming. As in the previous volume of this trilogy, the characters of Prior and Dr. Rivers are well developed and nuanced. I continually enjoy reading about their trials and tribulations, and look forward to reading the third and final volume in this trilogy.
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