Pat Barker's Regeneration

1759 Words4 Pages

In Pat Barker's novel Regeneration, there is little doubt that the cult of Oscar Wilde had taken hold already in the first decades of the twentieth century. In Oscar Wilde's Last Stand, Philip Hoarer informs us that by associating with Robert Ross, Wilfred Owen "was allying himself with the cult of Oscar Wilde: hero, mentor and martyr to an entire culture" (Hoarer 15). In some manner, the unraveling of this statement is what makes the references to Wilde so important in Barker's novel. Barker makes three references to Oscar Wilde on pages 54, 124, and 143. Each of the references to Wilde is in the context of friendships involving homosexual males. In Barker's Regeneration, Oscar Wilde is referenced to emphasize the theme that homosexuals are completely capable having friendships with other males and not just romantic relationships.

The interesting life of Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde began on October 16, 1854, in Dublin, Ireland. By the end of his college education, Wilde had become one of the most famous aesthetes; it was this recognition which drew attention to his affected paradoxes and his witty sayings. This fame led to his 1882 lecture tour of America. In 1885 Wilde began work as a book reviewer for the Pall Mall Gazette and a critic for the Dramatic Reviewer. Two years later, he was appointed as the editor of the Lady's World Magazine. The year 1888 marked his first major published work The Happy Prince and Other Stories, which was a charming collection of children's stories. Three years later Wilde made a name for him self by publishing four books in 1891: A House of Pomegranates, Lord Arthur Savile's Crime, Intentions, and The Picture of Dorian Gray -- the latter earning him his greatest fame to date" ("Biograp...

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The references to Oscar Wilde are ingeniously placed within the novel to give a historical framework to the novel. Pat Barker, in her use of historical characters intertwined with her creation of fictional characters, shows how homosexual and heterosexual men can relate in the background of war and in a society of changing social mores.

Works Cited

Barker, Pat. Regeneration. New York: Plume, 2003.

Biography of Oscar Wilde. 2000. A&E Television Networks. 10 April, 2004.


Borland, Maureen. Wilde's Devoted Friend. Oxford: Lennard Publishing, 1990.

Hammond, Paul. Love between Men in English Literature. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1996.

Hibberd, Dominic. Wilfred Owen: The Last Year. London: Constable, 1992.

Hoare, Philip. Oscar Wilde's Last Stand. New York: Arcade Publishing, 1997.

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