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Pat Barker: Regeneration

7. Chapter 9: “The war that had promised so much”

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About this Lecture


In this module, we explore Chapter 9, in which our attention is focused much more strongly on the character of Rivers. In particular, we think about his attitude to class (“I suppose it’s just a matter of officers having a more complex mental life”), the episode where he sits outside and watches two patients scything (“They looked, Rivers thought, almost comically symbolic”), his relationship to his patients, which he compares to that of a father and son, and – again – a reflection on the different fates on men and women in the war (“The war that had promised so much in the way of ‘manly’ activity had actually delivered ‘feminine’ passivity”)


In this course, we explore Pat Barker’s ‘Regeneration’. Set in 1917 in Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh, the novel follows psychiatrist William Rivers as he treats shell-shocked soldiers, including the poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen. This course sees Professor John McRae (University of Nottingham) read through novel chapter-by-chapter, focusing on key moments and episodes in the novel, thinking about the wider themes and issues with which this rich, complex, and enjoyable novel is engaged.


John McRae is Special Professor of Language in Literature Studies and Teaching Associate in the School of English at Nottingham University, and holds Visiting Professorships in China, Malaysia, Spain and the USA. He is co-author of The Routledge History of Literature in English with Ron Carter, and also wrote The Language of Poetry, Literature with a Small 'l' and the first critical edition of Teleny by Oscar Wilde and others.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

McRae, J. (2018, August 15). Pat Barker: Regeneration - Chapter 9: “The war that had promised so much” [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

McRae, J. "Pat Barker: Regeneration – Chapter 9: “The war that had promised so much”." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,