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Regeneration [Paperback]

Pat Barker
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Dec 12 2012 0140236236 978-0140236231 Film & TV Tie-in ed
When Dr William Rivers treats a patient at a mental hospital who has spoken out against World War I, the relationship that develops between them makes them debate the logic of their respective positions. Thus the doctor questions the sanity of the war which is his duty to return his patients to.

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Regeneration, one in Pat Barker's series of novels confronting the psychological effects of World War I, focuses on treatment methods during the war and the story of a decorated English officer sent to a military hospital after publicly declaring he will no longer fight. Yet the novel is much more. Written in sparse prose that is shockingly clear -- the descriptions of electronic treatments are particularly harrowing -- it combines real-life characters and events with fictional ones in a work that examines the insanity of war like no other. Barker also weaves in issues of class and politics in this compactly powerful book. Other books in the series include The Eye in the Door and the Booker Award winner The Ghost Road. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From Library Journal

In 1917, decorated British officer and poet Siegfried Sassoon wrote a declaration condemning the war. Instead of a court-martial, he was sent to a hospital for other "shell-shocked" officers where he was treated by Dr. William Rivers, noted an thropologist and psychiatrist. Author Barker turns these true occurrences into a compelling and brilliant antiwar novel. Sassoon's complete sanity disturbs Dr. Rivers to such a point that he questions his own role in "curing" his patients only to send them back to the slaughter of the war in France. World War I decimated an entire generation of European men, and the horrifying loss of life and the callousness of the government led to the obliteration of the Victorian ideal. This is an important and impressive novel about war, soldiers, and humanity. It belongs in most fiction collections.
- C. Christopher Pavek, National Economic Research As socs. Lib., Washington, D.C.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
This first book in Barker's WWI trilogy is based on the real-life treatment of poet Siegfried Sassoon by psychiatrist and anthropologist Dr. William Rivers at Craiglockhart War Hospital. Sassoon has publicly denounced the war as a "senseless slaughter" and refuses to fight anymore. The powers that be assign him to Rivers' care as a victim of "shell shock" - a traumatic experience that leaves men unable to function. The hospital's aim is not so much to cure as to return men to active duty - an objective that leaves Rivers conflicted as doctor and a humanitarian.
In an era when treatment of mental illnesses was often barbaric, (as in a memorable scene near the book's conclusion), Rivers' treatment plan is to cure with compassion and respect for the patient. He allows these men the freedom to work through their experiences instead of repressing them. In doing so, he takes some of their suffering onto himself, and is changed in the process. The give and take between doctor and patient is the real meat of the story.
But beyond the plot, there's a lot to think about in this novel. In fact, the real genius of this work is not the plot or the characters or the setting, but rather the seemingly endless array of serious ethical questions that crop up as these men struggle with their situations. Was Britain justified in going to war against Germany? Can war ever be moral? Who is responsible for the actions of nations? Do soldiers abdicate their moral responsibilities when they don the uniform? How can a doctor cure a patient's infirmity only to send him back to the front lines to die? How does this apply to conscientious objectors? Is it enough to treat symptoms when the underlying causes are psychological?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars World War I and the Inner Man Feb. 14 2002
By A Customer
I have just finished "Regeneration" found the experience shattering. While Pat Barker misses some of the aspects/issues involved in masculinity or "being a man," her insights on the ambiguities and ambivalences are sensitive and valuable. Her understanding of the demands and effects of combat contribute to the themes and plot of this novel.
The First World War was the seminal catastrophe of the 20th century [not my phrase]. Pat Barker has tried to explore some of reasons why the previous sentence is true. Class differences and conflicts, the emerging important roles of women in society, the rise of psychological therapy, the incredible ambiguities regarding wartime male relationships and homosexuality are all part of her narrative and the world within the book covers. In no way can these matters be handled broadly or in depth in a tale of 250+ pages but that she can weave them all in with superb writing is testament to an excellent novelist.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The horrors of war Nov. 13 2003
In the first book of Pat Barker's Regeneration Trilogy, the reader is introduced into the psychological consequences of trench fighting during World War. Officers suffering from variations of the controversial shell shock syndrome were commissioned by the British Army to be treated at Craiglockhart, a military hospital outside Edinburgh, with the intention of healing them and sending them back to the front in France. REGENERATION follows a group of officers treated at Craiglockhart as they deal with the horrific events they have witnessed. There is no doubt that what these soldiers experience can disturb even the most strong-minded individual today. The principle psychiatrist is Dr. Rivers, who suffered from his own personal demons and war symptoms. He created strong friendships with many of his patients and cared dearly for their well being. Rivers is a complex, nuanced character. While he portrays an exterior of believing in the War, he holds an internal debate of the War's philosophical warrants.
It was a pure enjoyment to read about WW1, an often forgotten war in the literary world in my own opinion. I was previously unaware to the full extent of the shock and revulsion of trench fighting that the soldiers had to endure. It seems virtually impossible to leave that situation psychologically untouched. REGENERATION contains many horrific scenes that remain with the reader long after the book is put down. Another intriguing aspect of this book concerns the fact that it is a mixture of fact and fiction. Characters such as Siegfried Sassoon and Dr. Rivers existed in real life, although Barker did perform some literary liberties in writing this book. REGENERATION is a book that was difficult to put down. The unique plot grabbed me and held my attention. Although there were many scenes of graphic violence I felt it was an integral part of the plot. It enabled the reader to get a glimpse of what these soldiers endured in the trenches. A well done accomplishment.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Regeneration Trilogy Dec 5 2002
Pat Barker's magnificent trilogy is not only a profound contribution to our literature on the First World War - it is also one of the most distinguished works of contemporary fiction in any genre. Barker doesn't skirt around the central issues with a po-faced patriotic reverence, but rather tackles them head on: the agonizing contradictions of patriotism and protest; the politics of social and self-surveillance; the homoerotic undertones of trench camaraderie, especially among the war poets; the horrendous physical and psychological costs of war; and the sense of personal duty which drives us, nonetheless, to fight. These are big themes, but Barker's talent is to handle them in a way which makes her novels feel like an easy read. They are accessible, engaging, seemingly simplistic in their style - but in the end profoundly moving in a way which only the highest literature aspires to be. The trick is that she makes her characters so real for us - Prior and Rivers, the consistent protagonists, are completely human. She makes us experience a world-historical incident on a very human scale. Harrowing, intelligent, moving and funny, Barker has crafted a fictional epic that will stay with you forever. Walking through Sydney's Central railway station months after finishing these books, I came across the honour boards listing the hundreds of railway men and women who died in the Great War. Barker's books made the war real for me, made these lives - these deaths - real. If they do nothing more than that for you, they've succeeded.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars a great read!
Real people experiencing real things and the horrors of war. Well written; a great read!!!!! * * * * *.
Published 1 month ago by Michael Anthony
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
pat barker is a great writer, one who is less known in canada than the UK. This book is one in a trilogy for which she was warded a Booker prize. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Lesley Hastie
4.0 out of 5 stars Fix Their Minds So They Can Go Back Into The Slaughter of World War I
When the First World War broke out, most people assumed it would be over in a few months as their nation (whichever one that was) sent the others packing. Read more
Published on March 13 2008 by Donald Mitchell
2.0 out of 5 stars Absurdly Overrated Fluff
Absurdly overrated, and I am wondering what kind of bigwig muckety-muck connections Ms. Barker has in the publishing industry which allows for such mediocre material to receive... Read more
Published on June 3 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Regeneration
This is definately my favourite book! From the minute i picked it up, i did not want to put it down. I was surprised by its content and found it utterly compelling. Read more
Published on Aug. 31 2003 by Phoebe
1.0 out of 5 stars Not My Cup of Tea. Maybe It's Yours.
I wanted to like this book. I can't say that I didn't try. But after the first hundred pages or so, I still could not get interested in the book. Read more
Published on Jan. 22 2003 by A.B.
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
This book deserved the praise it has received. It is horrifying at times and incredibly clear-eyed about the situation the characters find themselves in. Read more
Published on Jan. 6 2003 by Carper
4.0 out of 5 stars Quite brilliant, but not personally moving
Barker's novel is a most impressive anti-war novel, wonderfully written and meticulously accurate in its characters' psychoanalysis. Read more
Published on Dec 11 2002 by Thomas Dignazio
4.0 out of 5 stars Worthwhile - but a little confusing
Regeneration, The Eye in the Door and Ghost Road make up Pat Barker's remarkable trilogy about England during the "Great War." The three books center around the character of Dr. Read more
Published on Jan. 18 2002 by Dan
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