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Regeneration (Regeneration #1)

4.03  ·  Rating Details ·  19,862 Ratings  ·  1,161 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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Susan Zinner Not sure I agree with the previous person...I was a precocious reader and read all kinds of things adults might have found "inappropriate." The sex…moreNot sure I agree with the previous person...I was a precocious reader and read all kinds of things adults might have found "inappropriate." The sex scenes are NOT explicit. Some of the war scenes are disturbing, but are handled well. (Just my two cents worth...)(less)

Community Reviews

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“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
My experience with this World War I trilogy is bumpy, to say the least.

Starting by reading The Ghost Road without knowing it was the last in the series, I was not impressed. I have difficulties with historical fiction which mixes fictional characters with historical persons in a speculative interpretation of history. But considering the unfairness of judging a series after reading only the conclusion, I now embarked on the first one. Thus I find myself doing what Carol Ann Duffy did with the mos
Sep 21, 2009 Stephanie rated it did not like it  ·  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
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 Derus
Jul 08, 2014 Richard Derus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 05, 2014 ·Karen· rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: brits
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
Jul 11, 2014 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war-novels
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
Jul 04, 2012 Shovelmonkey1 rated it really liked it  ·  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)
Dec 13, 2011 Dawn (& Ron) rated it really liked it  ·  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
Jun 23, 2009 Agnieszka rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, 2013, reviewed, ww-1

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 of that he la
Jo Woolfardis
I find it a bit difficult to rate this book. In terms of subject matter-mental illness brought on by the First World War-it is one of the most important in history. In terms of the way it was written, it's not the best book by any means. In terms of character, it's quite interesting but lacking. In terms of exploration, it ventures no farther than the shrubbery.

The writing was mediocre, in all honesty. The flow of paragraphs was often rather disjointed, though one could attribute that to the who
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
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.
Aug 21, 2008 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 found this a fascinating book!! I am really interested in anything about medicine and so found the description of early psychological treatments of WWI veterans very interesting. Also, that the whole trilogy is based on fact, on the real life meeting of the poet Sigfried Sassoon and his doctor during his rehabilitation W.H.R. Rivers. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series.
Jan 12, 2014 Erwin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-1
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
Sep 15, 2011 Larry Bassett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Clif Hostetler
Oct 23, 2013 Clif Hostetler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 11, 2009 K.D. Absolutely rated it really liked it  ·  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
Sep 09, 2008 Philip rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 Sassoons case it is possible that the motivation might even be political, rather than psychological.

Rivers attempts to analy
Perhaps even 4 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 fact
Dov Zeller
It's been a long time since I've read the Regeneration trilogy, recommended and lent to me by a friend I was living with at the time. I thought they were great -- poetic, powerful, intriguing in their exploration of shell-shock and poets and protest (WWI) and the life of protagonist Billy Prior (fictional character working with historical psychologist William Rivers, who treated both Seigfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen for ptsd during the war).

Perhaps I'll read these books again at some point.

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
Kᴇᴇ Queen
The novel was a combination of fictional and true accounts which are loosely based on “the history of psychology and the real-life experiences of British army officers being treated for shell shock during World War I at Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh (The War Poets at Craiglockhart)”. It consisted of four parts centered mostly on three characters (Rivers, Sassoon and Prior) but also delved on mental struggles of other discharged soldiers suffering from their experiences while in the bat ...more
Jul 08, 2017 Girish rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
“A society that devours its own young deserves no automatic or unquestioning allegiance.”

Pat Barker's Regeneration is one of the hard hitting take on war through the eyes of a psychiatrist. Based on a true story, the book is very well written on people dealing with the horrors of war and the different treatment philosophies.

The Craiglockhart hospital is entrusted with the task of getting the battle wearied back to the field at the earliest. In Rivers we have an empathetic psychiatrist, who beli
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
Mar 07, 2011 Debra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 24, 2009 Laura rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Bettie
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
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Play Book Tag: Regeneration 4 stars 2 15 May 10, 2016 07:16PM  
500 Great Books B...: Regeneration - Pat Barker 4 27 Jul 30, 2015 03:54PM  
Guardian Newspape...: January - Regeneration 24 21 Jan 24, 2015 06:50PM  
Novels about WWI 13 71 Oct 08, 2012 10:51AM  
Goodreads Librari...: How do I delete an award? 7 76 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
More about Pat Barker...

Other Books in the Series

Regeneration (3 books)
  • The Eye in the Door (Regeneration, #2)
  • The Ghost Road (Regeneration, #3)

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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” 26 likes
“Somehow if she'd know the worst parts, she couldn't have gone on being a haven for him...Men said they didn't tell their women about France because they didn't want to worry them. but it was more than that. He needed her ignorance to hide in. Yet, at the same time, he wanted to know and be known as deeply as possible. And the two desires were irreconcilable.” 18 likes
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