Ester Gendusa

Pat Barker's Regeneration: Subverting the Masculinity of World War I Official Discourse

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Pat Barker; The Great War; Discursive Myths; Rewriting.

Pat Barker's "Regeneration" (1991) offers an imaginative deconstruction of the myth of the Great War as produced within British official patriotic rhetoric and in some of the best-known lyrics by Wilfred Owen (1893-1918), who, together with Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967), has always been celebrated as one of the leading War poets. If Owen's poetry partly entails the apolitical sublimation of the devastating facts of war through the ambiguous sentiment of pity, in Barker's novel any suppression of emotions is posited as artificial and counterbalanced by a thorough exploration of those contradictory aspects of the Great War which official discourses have tended to obscure: the homoerotic experiences of the army life, its oedipal scenarios and soldiers' subservient positions within a paternalistic environment. Through specific formal strategies entailing a recourse to intertextuality and rewriting, Barker deconstructs the myth of masculinity and re-inscribes the terms of the Male/Female binary couple in an attempt to de-totalise History.

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