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Pat Barker skilfully interweaves fact with fiction in Regeneration. It manages to portray the immense horror of the First World War even though the story is set a long way from the battlefields. The true horrors experienced by Sassoon and others are uncovered by their exchanges with Dr Prior – an eminent psychiatrist. The novel really makes you think about the consequences of the First World War whilst acknowledging its necessity. I’m only half way through but am enjoying the way it is making me question my own thoughts about war in the world today which is fought in a very different way.
Regeneration is a haunting read, suffused on every level with the tragedy of the First World War and raising very good points both for and against it. All this is set against genuine human tragedy, with a tortured conscience placed at the centre of a real life story. Joseph, Dulwich College.
This book focuses on the issues of World War 1 and is something that makes people think more about wars and also highlights how something small could turn out to be something of great significance. Sassoon ,who objects against war is sent to a hospital because the war committee think that he is clearly in need of help. As you read on you find out that Sassoon isn’t clearly not someone who is in need of psychiatric help. The book was very moving and focused on the moral side of the war.
Regeneration was a classic book which gave you a very good insight on the 1st World War. It showed you the different ways people interpreted the war. It was a very tough read and took me a while, it did not have enough action and excitement for people our age, I did not enjoy it that much but it was very educational and made you think twice about the way you think of War
The City of London School has a strong historical connection with the First World War. H.H. Asquith who as Prime Minister declared war on Germany was an Old Citizen and lost his son Raymond during the conflict. Large numbers of our pupils were in the Officer Training Corps and more than 300 were killed. One of these, Eric Townsend, who died at Ypres in 1916, wrote an extremely moving letter to be opened by his parents in the event of his death. The letter was published in the Daily Mail and created something of a national sensation. The letter ended as follows: “To me has been given the easier task: to you is given the more difficult – that of living in sorrow. Be of good courage that at the end you may give a good account. Adieu, best of parents. Your loving son, Eric.”
Posted on behalf of Tom U. from King’s College School Westminster
Regeneration, by Pat Barker, is a novel about a First World War soldier called Siegfried Sassoon. He has been sent to a psychiatric hospital called Craiglockhart, because of his strong objections to the war being viewed as a mental breakdown, and is under the care of Dr Rivers. The book follows his recovery along with those of some of the other patients residing at the hospital. The book also explores Dr Rivers’ changing opinions on the war, resulting from his experiences with his patients.
I liked that fact that the book was very original and was not just another run-of-the-mill war book – it focused less on the war itself and more on its psychological effects on the soldiers fighting in it. I did not like the fact that the ending was not fully conclusive – however it could be seen as a positive that the book made me want to find out what happened next. What surprised me was the revelation that, against popular belief that everyone was at their most patriotic during the war, some of the characters did not believe that the British government’s motives were sufficient to continue fighting. I learned to appreciate the psychological effects that the war had on the people fighting on the front lines, and that some emotional scars left were far deeper than any physical scars. I wish that the book had followed Sassoon a little bit more as he readjusted to life on the front lines and how he coped mentally – did the regeneration work? However, I still thoroughly enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone who is bored of conventional war novels and wants to try something new.
Pat Barker gives an evocative portrayal of the First World War and how opinions at the time were viewed by the establishment. Contrast too, the differing approaches of the two doctors and their approach to treating the war veterans.