These literary licenses do not majorly diminish the utility of the work as a historical record. To the contrary they condense and encapsulate British soldiers’ experiences. The book proves to be both intellectually engaging and technically satisfying, while not compromising on history. This essay will argue that while accommodating the imperatives of the novel form, Regeneration does not compromise on historical veracity.
Firstly, an attractive feature of the novel is the manner in which it synthesizes real events across the realms of society, politics and the battlefield. For example, the renowned Dr. W.H.R. Rivers was the incumbent army psychiatrist at the Craiglockhart War Hospital during the war. It was true that he attended to poet Siegfried Sassoon as one of the patients. Sassoon had been diagnosed with ‘shell-shock’ - what in modern parlance would be Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). But there was a political conspiracy behind this event. Earlier, Sassoon had openly protested against the war and conscientiously objected to participating in it. Understanding the power and reach of a public intellectual like Sassoon, the powers that be sought to undermine his credibility by attributing a mental illness to him. But this would prove to be a blessing in disguise in retrospect, as Sassoon was able to mentor and inspire Wilfred Owen at Craiglockhart, where the latter was recuperating from war-related stress. Indeed, Owen would go on to overtake Sassoon as a legend of war poetry. These are real historical events that have shaped twentieth century culture, especially literary and political discourse. They have all been faithfully captured by Barker in her novel, albeit by taking some liberties over certain descriptive aspects of these events.
In terms of shortcomings, Regeneration does not serve as a detailed biographical account of Sassoon’s or Owen’s life. Certain important facets of their