The friction line between “lying” and “truth”, Oedipal conflict, and traumatic speaking and silence in Pat Barker’s Regeneration

José M. Yebra


The present article analyses the first part of Pat Barker’s trilogy Regeneration (1991-1995), of the same title. It is set in the First World War and turns around the encounter between psychiatrist E. M. Rivers and War poet Siegfried Sassoon when the latter suffers from shell shock and publishes a complaint against the war politics of the British government. From the analysis of Sassoon’s Declaration, my main contention is that the novel addresses the liminal territory between “truth” and “lying” when representing and memorialising a traumatic event like WWI. In the second part, I delve into the poetics of psychoanalysis and (poetic) language as the narratives Barker uses to articulate the rapport between generations: fathers furthering a war in which their sons are involved. With this in mind, the paper analyses their oedipal conflict, as well as that between healer (Rivers) and trauma victim (Sassoon) both at a personal and national level.


“Lying”; “truth”; Oedipal conflict; WWI trauma

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