When a friend suggested Pat Barker’s Regeneration Trilogy, I ordered all three from my library system. The winner of the Man Booker Prize for the third in the series (The Ghost Road), British author Pat Barker sets the tale in the three books during World War I, and frames the action around the stark experiences and memories of the men in the trenches. Inspired by stories told by her grandfather who fought in France during the War, Barker has a new (2012) book – Toby’s Room – that continues the theme.
At the advice of my friend, I decided to begin with the first book of the trilogy. Although Barker is direct and the images are sometimes difficult – it is war, afterall – she has me captive.
In 1917 Siegfried Sassoon, poet and decorated war hero, publicly refused to continue serving as a British officer in World War because the war seemed a senseless slaughter. Sassoon was officially classified “mentally unsound” and sent to Dr. William Rivers at the Craiglockhart War Hospital for regeneration so he could return to the front.
Have you read the trilogy? or any of Pat Barker books?
I did read them, but it was some time ago. My memory is strongest of the first book. What grew on me as I read was the moral issue: was it an obligation to continue to fight in a war that served no national purpose and was only destructive? Did an individual have the right to make that judgment?
Great analysis – thanks. As I continue to read Regeneration, I’m struck with the personal war each man is waging within.