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Regeneration [Paperback]

Pat Barker
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (118 customer reviews)

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Book Description

7 May 1992
In Craiglockhart war hospital, Doctor William Rivers attempts to restore the sanity of officers from World War I. When Siegfried Sassoon publishes his declaration of protest against the war, the authorities decide to have him declared mentally defective and send him to Craiglockhart.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (7 May 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141026537
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140123081
  • ASIN: 0140123083
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13.2 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (118 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 177,776 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

A brilliant novel. Intense and subtle (Peter Kemp Sunday Times) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

Craiglockhart, a hospital for officers ravaged by their experiences in trench warfare, is the setting for Pat Barker's 'Regeneration'. Here the poet Siegfried Sassoon, author of an article condemning the war, came under the care of psychiatrist W.H.R Rivers whose duty, as he saw it, was to return Sassoon to all the horrors of the Front, because Sassoon was sane, was healthy – and he had made a commitment. But while the encounter of Sassoon and Rivers is central to 'Regeneration', it is the exploration of the character of Rivers himself, the agony of the other patients and the insights into their minds, that makes this a tour-de-force. A superb novel related with chilling clarity and vivid compassion.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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First Sentence
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. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
74 of 76 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No-man's mind 8 Feb 2005
Format:Paperback
Though often mentioned alongside the likes of Faulks's Birdsong and Susan Hill's Strange Meeting, Regeneration does not exactly come up to the 'regular' qualification of a war novel. Instead, what novelist Pat Barker sets out to attain is to trace the mental paralysis the war leaves in man's mind as well as exploring the courageous, though mostly inept, ways for all those involved, to cope.
As a psychiatrist at Craiglockhart Hospital, psychiatrist W.H. Rivers, a historically authentic character and a kind-hearted, get-at-able, even noble person, faces up to the impossible task to try and free his inmates-patients from the war demons that do not cease to haunt their minds.
In this process he gets involved in their regeneration process at a personal level as they grow able to express the horrors that have incapacitated them psychologically.
Barker follows the treatment undergone by war poet Siegfried Sassoon (aka Mad Jack) upon his arrival at Craiglockhart after throwing his brave conduct medal into the river Mersey and publishing his notorious anti-war statement in the Times.
Another riveting feature of the book is when Sassoon meets young Wilfred Owen and encourages the young poet in his writing aspirations.

In Regeneration, admittedly, the war merely serves as an undercurrent; but Barker succeeds admirably in turning it into a dramatic device to explore the complex issues she sets forth to clarify.
Being a doctor, Rivers' job is to preserve life. However, in just doing this, he ends up getting the men back on their feet again so they are ready to go back to the front (to get killed there just the same).
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars WW1 pyschological story 16 Nov 2008
Format:Paperback
An interesting,introverted book,based on Dr Rivers study of some of his more famous clients.It's wonderfully written,and Barkers characters ooze,a moody,intellectual,introverted mind set.The tone of the book has a nice sepia,style to it,and the sadness of war and pointless death is always there.This is a book for people who like the physchological side of WW1 and all of it's dilemmas,rather than the actual gun fight in the trenches.Barker concentrates on understatement and introspection to bring the book,and it's characters to life.This will become a "classic" of it's genre in the fullness of time
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Anthem for Great Writing 18 Nov 1998
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
One of the most impressive books I have read in ages. A worthy Booker Prize winner. What impressed me the most was the subject matter and how it was handled. On the surface the "shrink" sessions of a First World War poet does not seem to be a far reaching let alone interesting subject for a novel. However, I was utterly engrossed by the story of the rehabilitation of not just Sassoon but all the other "inmates" of Craiglockhart as well. The anti war message is very clear and well argued from the author's point of view and in retrospect Sassoon was quite right. The sadness of the stories from the Front, the breakdowns and the attitude of the government and military are impressively recreated, as unfortunately are the methods of some other military hospitals. The appearance of Wilfred Owen should inspire readers to try his poetry, it is wonderful, honest and heartbreaking. All the waste of war, yards of mud for thousands of lives are here. Lest we forget, this is indeed an important work.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My first Barker but not my last 27 Jun 2007
By SJSmith TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
This is my first dip into Pat Barker's novel. I have the trilogy but I'm reading them a book at a time so I don't overload myself with the topic matter.

Fantastically written, each character comes to life throughout the novel. I found it interesting from a teacher's perspective as I have taught Sassoon, Owen and Graves so it was good to see their relationships. The characters are vivid, she has written them with such clarity and imagination. The binding character is Dr Rivers and the bok is about his interaction with the patients that are sent to him.

The book is a mix of facts and fiction and it's difficult to tell where one ends and the other starts to be honest. Her source material is wide-ranging and I'm sure the bits I thought were fact were. It discussed parts of the First Wolrd War that were different to my previous reading - such as centering around Craiglockhart. It gives the readers a chance to get to know the mental health issues surrounding the soldiers and is a book that will stay in my mind for a while.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A truly rivetting read 29 Sep 2004
Format:Paperback
This novel, which forms part of the 'Regeneration Trilogy' is a harrowing, yet reflective read on the Great War. As a student of Modern History the author uses a balance of fact (the meeting between Owen and Sassoon, two of the greatest poets of the War, at Craiglockart Hospital, and their encounter with Dr W Rivers) and fiction, to demonstrate the horror of the First World War.
I learnt more from this book than I did from many set texts. A truly rivetting read from cover to cover. As are the further two novels which make up the trilogy.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One versus the machine 2 July 2007
Format:Paperback
I disagree with the last reviewer and find it fascinating that many of the reviews focus on WWI. This book is set against the background of WWI and its portrayals of various horiffic incidents is insightful- but these incidents serve to show us the why and the how of each of the individuals in this book. It focusses on each one, each man as a person ravaged by horror seeking a hiding place from it, but unable to leave behind the stinking, dying flesh of war. Take each man out of the machine of war, and he is no longer a hero among 20 million heroes, but a man. Attitudes towards mental health and duty form the true core of this novel (as subsequent novels in the trilogy focus on sex and then, finally on the mundanity of 'action'). No character is entirely sympathetic, even Rivers, the 'father' at the heart of the novel.

Human flaws are saddening, but also maddening, and the arrogance of breeding (versus the unthinking sacrifice of the working classes) leaves you with some distaste at the actions of Sassoon and others (a man who had not done a day's work in his life until the war came along). Men in Sassoon's position were coddled back to service, while men of lesser breeding were simply shot before they could spread discontent in the ranks.

Barker does not seek to justify anything- you are left to form your own opinions, and slowly cotton on to the fact that neither Sassoon nor Rivers are the heart of this novel, but that Billy Prior, whose life we will follow in the later novels, is the everyman- not a hero, not a coward, not lovable nor particularly handsome, but nevertheless selected by Barker as our guide through the inexplicable horrors of 1914-1919.

I read this recently as part of the '1001 books to read before you die' series, and was deeply impressed by it- having read some of Barker's earlier work I had though that I would hate it. Glad to be proved very wrong!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
Very moving and enlightening story about the attempts to treat shell shock. Real story about Dr. Rivers and warpoets Siegfred Sassoon and Wilfred Owen dramatized excellent by Pat... Read more
Published 5 days ago by Per Bech
4.0 out of 5 stars Functional
I bought the book mostly for its factual detail about dates and places rather than for its textual analysis, and these are well and clearly presented. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Dr. P. M. Stoneman
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but disjointed
Found the whole subject of how psychological problems caused by warfare were dealt with then extremely interesting, but did not like the way the book jumped about from patient to... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Paula Letch
4.0 out of 5 stars brilliant book
great book, quite disturbing but wonderful writing, interesting and thought provoking, I've learned a lot from reading it. thank you
Published 1 month ago by Ann-marie Gutteridge
3.0 out of 5 stars clearly told
as I read I am aware of the author's conviction that she is right - I compare it to Ford Madox Ford's questioningly masterly work on the war, - a book that successfully invites me... Read more
Published 1 month ago by barrie hesketh
5.0 out of 5 stars A different kind of portrayal of WW1
This is the story of an aspect of the First War that receives little attention. How were soldiers suffering from 'shell stock's treated? Read more
Published 2 months ago by jolver
4.0 out of 5 stars Treatment of wounded soldiers both physical and mental
Enjoyed the book especially about Siegfried Sassoon and friendship with Wilfred Owen. And the trials for Dr Rivers treating so many disturbed so.diers. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Mary
4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling and moving story about the psychological damage caused by...
In July 1917 Siegfried Sassoon issued a declaration denouncing the Great War. Sassoon should have been court-martialled but thanks to the intervention of his friend, Robert... Read more
Published 2 months ago by I Read, Therefore I Blog
5.0 out of 5 stars Regeneration
A truly spellbinding book and very relevant reading for 2014 when we are remembering that terrible war which began 100 years ago. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Peter
5.0 out of 5 stars evocative
A well crafted piece that develops the characters so realistically that you feel like an observer in the room with them. Thoroughly absorbing.
Published 2 months ago by DN Vivian
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