Thursday, June 14, 2012

Summer reading: The Eye in the Door

I'm trying to figure out what to write my autobiography paper on (still) and so I decided to get my brain back into World War One mode by listening to The Eye in the Door, the second installment of the Regeneration trilogy, a series of novels that takes place in England, on the "home-front", during the war. The books are about injured and "shell shocked" soldiers receiving psychological treatment from the neurologist and cultural anthropologist Dr. W.H.R Rivers. Nearly all of the characters are based on the lives of real men, including Dr. Rivers, Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, and Robert Graves, except for our protagonist Billy Prior, a temperamental Northerner who'll unapologetically have sex with anyone (homosexuality features as a primary theme in the novels as a threat to national security and something which is frequently treated at the hospital in which Dr. Rivers works), who hates his father and seeks to replace Dr. Rivers as a father figure, and who is a fighter as well as a lover. Prior is a bit over the top, but I am absolutely in love with him.

The best part of the novels, in my opinion, is Pat Barker's use of various analyses of the war, scholarship which I'm pretty familiar with by this point. The characters mention their awareness of a great sweeping change, suffragettes claim that the war is the best thing for their cause; one astute man talks about how the body sacrifice adds an element of legitimacy to war, a statement that is nearly pulled verbatim from Elaine Scarry's The Body in Pain that has a whole chapter on how the body functions in war. There is trauma theory and discussions of memory, memorial, art, the changing relationship between men and women, etc. It's a good reminder of why I like this period. So much hangs on the body.

I think I shall write my paper about Mary Borden's memoir. My main problem with doing this, however, is that I want to reach out and explore new texts while I can. There is a great deal happening in this one, and I love it, but am I limiting myself by writing so much about it? Am I pigeonholing myself into writing my dissertation on it?

No comments:

Post a Comment