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Regeneration (Regeneration #1)

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  14,521 ratings  ·  858 reviews
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 ele ...more
Paperback, 250 pages
Published 1992 by Penguin (first published 1991)
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The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. TolkienThe Forsyte Saga by John GalsworthyThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg LarssonHis Dark Materials by Philip PullmanWolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
Best Literary Trilogies
12th out of 182 books — 85 voters
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria RemarqueRegeneration by Pat BarkerBirdsong by Sebastian FaulksA Farewell to Arms by Ernest HemingwayFall of Giants by Ken Follett
WWI Historic Fiction
2nd out of 123 books — 23 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Steve Sckenda
Feb 18, 2015 Steve Sckenda rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: The Wounded; Sufferers of PTSD; Those Interested in World War I and Pacifism
Recommended to Steve by: Booker Prize for Third Novel in this Trilogy
When I’m asleep, dreaming and drowsed and warm,
They come, the homeless ones, the noiseless dead.
While the dim and charging breakers of the storm
Rumble and drone and bellow overhead,
Out of the gloom they gather about my bed.
They whisper to my heart; their thoughts are mine.”

This poem was written by World War I poet Siegfried Sassoon, one of the real characters in Regeneration who is convalescing from “shell shock” at Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh and who has the good fortune to be trea
“If you were born in a country or at a time not only when nobody comes to kill your wife and your children, but also nobody comes to ask you to kill the wives and children of others, then render thanks to God and go in peace. But always keep this thought in mind: you might be luckier than I, but you’re not a better person.”

-Jonathan Littell, The Kindly Ones
This is war. This is not honor. This is not glory. This is not right. This is not just. This is not a game played with lives and loves and d
It has been more than four years since I read this novel. Thus, I am now just contributing impressions and integrating some background on the historical characters brought to life in the book. For a fresh and rich thematic response to the book, I would I recommend highly the reviews by Steve Sckenda and James Henderson.

I appreciated the in-depth character study of William Rivers, the psychologist treating shell shock victims at Craiglockhart War Hospital. His empathy for those broken men and th
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: 5* of five

The Publisher Says: 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 e
Everyone Sang

Everyone suddenly burst out singing;
And I was filled with such delight
As prisoned birds must find in freedom,
Winging wildly across the white
Orchards and dark-green fields; on--on--and out of sight.

Everyone's voice was suddenly lifted;
And beauty came like the setting sun:
My heart was shaken with tears; and horror
Drifted away ... O, but Everyone
Was a bird; and the song was wordless; the singing will never be done.

Siegfried Sassoon

Freedom, winging wildly. Young Siegfried must have felt
The first volume in Pat Barker’s First World War trilogy; and what an excellent start and a brilliant weaving of fact and fiction. I already knew about Craiglockhart and the hospital for those with “shellshock” and breakdown with the pioneering psychologist Rivers. Siegfried Sassoon’s stay there is well documented in Max Egremont’s excellent biography. He is a central part of this novel and his interactions with Rivers and Wilfred Owen (whom he encouraged to write poetry). Robert Graves also pop ...more
Sep 21, 2009 Stephanie rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one.
Recommended to Stephanie by: A professor I like too much to ever show this review to
Shelves: modern-classic
I am not giving this book one star because I find the subject matter troubling or because I'm not used to required reading.

I am giving this book one star because it is overrated, self-serving junk. Pat Barker has plucked from history characters that were perfectly capable of speaking for themselves (we know this because most of them were writers) and forced into them her own flat, inexperienced voice. It seems as though, for many people, the book's politics make up for its nonexistent plot, endl
Jul 09, 2012 Shovelmonkey1 rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who want to see the flipside of WW1
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list
World War I and World War II were very different kinds of war. If you peak around the edges of history, from an outside perspective, it may not seem so. And admittedly World War I and World War II were notably linked by the repeat performance given by a number of major players who exhibited short fuses and shorter memories over a period of less than twenty years. War is war you may think; people are engaged in mind blowingly brutal acts of killing and survival, reduced to pinprick statistics of ...more
Dawn (& Ron)
Apr 12, 2012 Dawn (& Ron) rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: WWI, miltary & historical fiction fans
Upon finishing the book, my mind was absolutely quiet, almost numb, as if there were too many thoughts to assimilate and I needed to let it all soak in. Like the patients with their experiences, this book can't be rushed, you can't quickly brush past one passage to go the next. Each person's thoughts and memories need to marinate, allowing their individual flavors to meld together, in order to enjoy its overall affect. It is profound and thought provoking, and deserves to be mentioned along side ...more

This book is not about heroes . English poetry is not yet fit to speak of them .
Nor is it about deeds , or lands , nor anything about glory , honour , might , majesty , dominion , or power , except War... All a poet can do today is warn . That is why the true Poets must be truthful .

In 1917 poet Sigfrid Sassoon terrified by the scale of war massacre made a statement called “A Soldier's Declaration in which announced that could no longer be a soldier and wouldn’t come back on the front . Because
Interesting historical novel set in hospital for officers recovering from shellshock during the first world war. I found the portrayals of the historical characters more convincing than the fictional character of Billy Prior, which led me to give up reading the trilogy midway through the second book.

The book opened a brief but interesting controversy over the techniques used by Dr Yealland to cure the inability to speak caused by shellshock which some soldiers suffered from during WWI. In Barker
This review was written in the late nineties (for my eyes only), and it was buried in amongst my things until recently when I uncovered the journal in which it was written. I have transcribed it verbatim from all those years ago (although square brackets may indicate some additional information for the sake of readability or some sort of commentary from now). This is one of my lost reviews.

Rarely is a book's theme so fittingly captured in a title than it is with Pat Barker's Regeneration. As Dr.
Loved this one! A wonderfully subtle novel about the psychological impact of the Great War. The first novel of three. I am looking forward to the next.
Larry Bassett
I was attracted to this book because the information about it says it has something to do with pacifism, a state of being that fascinates me and that seems like a good goal in life. I have been a pacifist in my mind for a long time although there is not much of a list of any actual actions I have taken that would brand me as a pacifist. I have joined and supported some pacifist organizations, been a conscientious objector to military taxes and done some pacifist reading. I guess I am a fellow tr ...more
For me, this first book in Pat Barker’s trilogy presents a perfect storm of interests — World War I, English poets, and madness. Incorporating actual people and events into the narrative, the novel takes place at Craiglockhart, a hospital outside Edinburgh requisitioned in 1916 as a facility for officers suffering from shell-shock. Supervising the show is Dr. William Rivers, a real-life neurologist, anthropologist, and psychiatrist who pioneered early work in nerve regeneration.

One of the centr
I have found all of Pat Barker's books that I have read fascinating, and I especially like the Regeneration trilogy. (Regeneration, The Eye In The Door, The Ghost Road) These novels, about the psychological toll that World War I exacted on some of its (at least temporary) survivors, are wrenching. I've always been fascinated by World War I, especially from the English perspective. What a way to start the twentieth century; and of course, rather than a war to end wars, it was merely an introducti ...more
Perhaps even 4½ stars. This historical-fiction novel centers around the poet Siegfried Sassoon and his psychiatrist Dr. Rivers during his stay at the mental hospital Craiglockhart during 1917.

The central theme is conflict between duty and survival which Rivers recognizes as the basis for most of the cases of "war neurosis", shell shock or as we now call it PTSD. Where do we draw the line between a soldier's duty and a completely reasonable desire to survive? The heart-wrenching part was the fac
In Regeneration, Pat Barker fictionalises an encounter between H. R. Rivers and Siegfrid Sasson in a military psychological hospital. In Craiglockhart, near Edinburgh, there are numerous war wounded, whose experiences in the Flanders trenches of the First World War have left them psychologically, as well as sometimes physically scarred. The symptoms are many and varied. In Sassoon´s case it is possible that the motivation might even be political, rather than psychological.

Rivers attempts to anal
Clif Hostetler
A case could be made that the misery and suffering endured by those serving in combatant roles by European soldiers of WWI were the most extreme of any war in history. (I explicitly limit this generalization to soldiers from European countries because they were in the trenches for four full years whereas American soldiers were engaged in active combat for less than a year.)

This novel is therefore particularly poignant because it provides a psychological study of the consequences of war by telli
K.D. Absolutely
Apr 27, 2010 K.D. Absolutely rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books; 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (20
Shelves: 1001-core
Edinburg, Scotland, 1917. Siegfried Sassoon, a 31-y/o poet and a decorated soldier started a protest against the ongoing WWI in France. This protest led him to be labeled as "shell shocked" and be confined at Craiglockhart Hospital under the care of an army psychiatrist, Dr. Rivers. Among the patients in the hospital were those who were truly suffering from the war trauma: another poet, Wilfred Owen who was able to polish his talent in writing under Sassoon; Billy Prior, an on-off mute who had a ...more
Regeneration is the first book of a trilogy about World War I and the psychological effects of the horrors of war. It is set in Scotland at the Craiglockhart War Hospital in 1917 where "shell-shocked" officers were sent for treatment. Today, we would call it post-traumatic stress. The story focuses on Dr W.H.R.Rivers, an actual psychologist, and a mix of real and fictional patients.

Siegfried Sassoon, a poet and courageous decorated officer, has written a declaration against the continuation of t
Just arrived from UK through BM.

This is the story of Siegfried Sassoon an English poet, author and soldier who was decorated for bravery on the Western Front, and his mental treatment at Craiglockhart War Hospital.

He was treated by the psychiatrist Dr. William Rivers who has to decide if it's appropriate to send Sassoon back to the front or not.

From Wikipedia: During the war, he worked as a RAMC captain at Craiglockhart War Hospital near Edinburgh, where he applied techniques of psychoanalysis
Anna Graham
Many of the other reviewers have discussed this book's plot and its themes, as well as its remarkably good writing and its painstaking historical research. There's something else about this book that is also extraordinary: its sheer intelligence. Pat Barker introduces the reader not just to the mind of a remarkable psychiatrist, but also to those of various soldiers suffering from various degrees of shell shock from World War I, as well as a woman who is dating one of these soldiers. In each cas ...more
Like so much other contemporary literary fiction, this was just meh. It was words on a page. It wasn't compelling, I didn't like it more than I disliked it or vice versa. In many ways it was like another meh book, Homer & Langley: historical fiction, based on a true story, with imagined conversations and fabricated details. The real story is always more interesting to me. I don't see the point of books like these. I don't understand why so many people read them, and literary award juries dot ...more
Eldred Buck
I started this novel, the first of the Regeneration trilogy by Pat Barker, on the 100 years anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War. Over early August a number of events were publicized about this sad anniversary and I felt a suitable mark of Remembrance of my own, would be to read this series of novels about that most grim of conflicts.
Regeneration opens with ‘The Declaration’, a public statement from a gallant, published poet and highly decorated serving officer, being read out by a
Elizabeth Theiss
A simply stunning book. Unforgettable encounters between the World War I poet Siegfried Sassoon, the war hero who has laid down his weapon and refused to lead more men to certain death in the carnage of trench warfare, and the psychiatrist who has been assigned to cure him. Compelling conversations about war, life, death and madness. RD Laing would have loved it.
Neil Fox
Set in Craiglockhart psychiatric Hospital during WW1, Pat Barkers' 1st novel in the Regeneration trilogy observes the walking mental casualties of the Great War through the eyes of Dr Rivers, a distinguished neurologist and anthropologist.

The concepts of shell shock and combat trauma were emergent phenomena during WW1, and Rivers, a humane and compassionate individual, stuggles to absorb, understand and heal the array of mental disorders resultant from the war. Barker introduces real-life charac
Pat Barker – Regeneration 1991

This is the first novel in Pat Barkers Regeneration trilogy of books, set during the First World War. 'Regeneration' is set within the framework of a mental hospital for officers, centered around Craiglockheart, Edinburgh during 1917. This historical/fictional novel is essentially based on historical figures; W.E. Rivers, a social anthropologist and psychiatrist and his treatment of shellshock victims of the Great War and among his patients are one Siegfried Sassoon
Stephen King recommended book, series, and author. In his book On Writing, published 2000, King says on pages 285-286: "These are the best books I've read over the last three or four years, the period during which I wrote The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon: A Pop-up Book, Hearts in Atlantis, On Writing, and the as-yet-unpublished From a Buick 8. In some way or other, I suspect each book in the list had an influence on the books I wrote."

He continues to say "...a good many of these might show you som
I had to read Regeneration for a uni course and was not looking forward to it. This book is one of the most moving books I have ever read - a big call for someone like me to say being a fuss-pot and very choosy over what I read.

Pat Barker's book set in the First World War delves into the minds of the various characters, the soliders in the hospital suffering 'shell shock' and the main protagonist Dr. W.H.R. Rivers, a former anthropologist turned psychiatrist who encourages his patients to explor
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Guardian Newspape...: January - Regeneration 24 16 Jan 24, 2015 06:50PM  
500 Great Books B...: Regeneration - Pat Barker 2 14 Jul 28, 2014 06:03PM  
Novels about WWI 13 65 Oct 08, 2012 10:51AM  
Goodreads Librari...: How do I delete an award? 7 71 Sep 06, 2012 01:49AM  
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Pat Barker was born in Thornaby-on-Tees in 1943. She was educated at the London School of Economics and has been a teacher of history and politics.

Her books include the highly acclaimed Regeneration trilogy Regeneration ; The Eye in the Door , winner of the Guardian Fiction Prize; and The Ghost Road , winner of the Booker Prize; as well as seven other novels. Pat Barker is married and lives in Du
More about Pat Barker...

Other Books in the Series

Regeneration (3 books)
  • The Eye in the Door (Regeneration, #2)
  • The Ghost Road (Regeneration, #3)
The Ghost Road (Regeneration, #3) The Eye in the Door (Regeneration, #2) Toby's Room Life Class The Regeneration Trilogy

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“Sometimes, in the trenches, you get the sense of something, ancient. One trench we held, it had skulls in the side, embedded, like mushrooms. It was actually easier to believe they were men from Marlborough's army, than to think they'd been alive a year ago. It was as if all the other wars had distilled themselves into this war, and that made it something you almost can't challenge. It's like a very deep voice, saying; 'Run along, little man, be glad you've survived” 14 likes
“I don't think it's possible to c-call yourself a C-Christian and... and j-just leave out the awkward bits.' -Wilfred Owen” 14 likes
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