The First World War: trauma and memory
The First World War: trauma and memory

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The First World War: trauma and memory

3.1.8 Shell shock in fiction: the example of Pat Barker

In more recent years, shell shock has continued to be a theme for literature.

Perhaps most famously, Pat Barker explored the issue in depth in her best-selling Regeneration trilogy (1991–94). The first novel in the trilogy was made into a film in 1997, and formed the basis of a stage adaptation, which premiered in Northampton in August 2014. In these novels, Barker depicted historical characters – including Sassoon, Owen, Graves and the physician W. H. R. Rivers – alongside a shell-shocked fictional protagonist, Billy Prior. Influenced by academic literature on war neurosis, Barker explored the links between masculinity, class and the treatment of shell shock, and further cemented the centrality of shell shock within the popular memory of the First World War in Britain.

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