Investigating Trauma in Narrating World War I: A Psychoanalytical Reading of Pat Barker’s Regeneration

Bakhtiar Sadjadi, Farnaz Esmkhani


The present paper seeks to critically read Pat Barker’s Regeneration in terms of Cathy Caruth’s psychoanalytic study of trauma. This analysis attempts to trace the concepts of latency, post-traumatic stress disorders, traumatic memory, and trauma in Barker’s novel in order to explore how trauma and history are interrelated in the narrative of past history and, particularly, in the history of World War I. The present paper also demonstrates how Barker’s novel Regeneration acts as the narrative of trauma that vocalizes the silenced history of shell-shocked soldiers of World War I to represent British society, the history that has been concealed due to social and individual factors. The study thus investigates the dissociative disorders which are experienced by traumatized survivors of World War I as the aftermath of traumatic experiences of wartime. In addition, it argues how time moves for the traumatized victim and how the notion of latency in terms of Caruth’s theory is traceable in Barker’s novel. In Regeneration, the traumatized survivors are haunted with traumatic memory of past history; furthermore, past history constantly disrupts their present and the victims are in continuous shift from present time to past time. Time thus loses its linearity in the narrative of traumatized survivors.

Keywords: Latency, post-traumatic stress disorders, traumatic memory, trauma

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