The Eye in the Door

The Eye in the Door

by Pat Barker


The second installment in the Regeneration Trilogy
It is the spring of 1918, and Britain is faced with the possibility of defeat by Germany. A beleaguered government and a vengeful public target two groups as scapegoats: pacifists and homosexuals. Many are jailed, others lead dangerous double lives, the "the eye in the door" becomes a symbol of the paranoia that threatens to destroy the very fabric of British society.

Central to this novel are such compelling, richly imagined characters as the brilliant and compassionate Dr. William Rivers; his most famous patient, the poet Siegfried Sassoon; and Lieutenant Billy Prior, who plays a central role as a domestic intelligence agent.  With compelling, realistic dialogue and a keen eye for the social issues that have gone overlooked in mainstream media, The Eye in the Door is a triumph that equals Regeneration and the third novel in the trilogy, the 1995 Booker Prize-winning The Ghost Road, establishing Pat Barker's place in the very forefront of contemporary novelists.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781417714681
Publisher: Bt Bound
Publication date: 04/01/1995
Series: Regeneration Trilogy Series
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 1.25(h) x 9.00(d)

About the Author

Pat Barker has earned a place in the first rank of contemporary British writers with such novels as Union StreetRegeneration (shortlisted for Britain's prestigious Booker Prize and chosen by the New York Times as one of the four best novels of 1992), The Eye in the Door (winner of the 1993 Guardian fiction prize), The Ghost Road (winner of the 1995 Booker Prize), and Noonday. Pat Barker lives in Durham, England.


Durham, England

Date of Birth:

May 8, 1943

Place of Birth:

Thornaby-on-Tees, England


London School of Economics; Durham University

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The Eye in the Door 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
vibrantminds on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Billy Prior is the main focus of this Part 2 of 3 books. The first being Regeneration and the last being The Ghost Road. This book focuses on the social abnormalities of society and the effect the role play's on the mind's of soldiers and civilians. Billy Prior is a bisexual and an officer who is loyal to his men but his sexual desires have had an impact on his lifestyle. He is back from the war (WWI) and has been a patient in a psychiatric hospital under the care of Dr. Rivers. He has been released from the hospital but still visits with Dr. Rivers due to episodic phases of his life where he has memory lapses resulting in a split personality. Not as good as the first book but still holds its own.
lauralkeet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This second novel in the Regeneration Trilogy continues to expose the horrors of war, through the lives of several men recovering from psychological trauma. Billy Prior, recently released from Craiglockhart hospital, remains under the care of psychiatrist Dr. William Rivers. Prior works in a London-based intelligence unit, investigating an alleged assassination plot. Barker elegantly weaves the threads of Prior's mental state, his personal relationships, and the assassination plot into a fairly interesting story. As with Regeneration, this book shows a side of the war seldom seen in "mainstream" literature and films, which tend to glamorize combat. And in this installment, Barker also shows how the war has affected British culture, whipping up patriotism and stifling dissent.But here's the thing: in the first fourteen pages, the reader is treated to one episode of heterosexual foreplay, followed almost immediately by a more graphic gay sex scene. OK, the character is bisexual, I get it. Ms. Barker, why didn't you just say so? Did you have to hit me over the head with it? Barker is clearly sympathetic towards her gay and bisexual characters, and accurately portrays the "double life" led by most gay men at that time. The secrecy and repression were quite sad, really. I just felt the erotic scenes were a bit gratuitous.Having said that, I enjoyed reading more about Dr. Rivers and learning of his treatment methods. This book is a fairly quick read and I am looking forward to completing the trilogy.
labfs39 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
[Regeneration], the first book in Barker's Regeneration Trilogy, was a tour de force, in which the treatment of WWI shell shocked soldiers is explored through the eyes of army psychologist, Dr. Rivers. Based on many actual people, events, and treatments, the book follows an episode in the life of poet Siegfried Sassoon and his treatment for pacifism by Rivers. In The Eye in the Door the story continues, but the focus shifts away from Sassoon, and lands squarely on Rivers and one of his patients, Billy Prior. Through Rivers' continuing crisis of conscience and Prior's deteriorating condition, this book explores the duality of personality and how it effects those who live in a hostile world, whether at home or at the front. Billy Prior was a minor figure in Regeneration, but now he becomes a central character. Released from Craiglockhart Hospital due to his asthma, not a cure, Prior is struggling with his constant need for sex and fears of what would happen if he failed to keep his sadistic impulses in check. Despite his sessions with Dr. Rivers, Prior begins to dissociate between a soldier creating a relationship with a young woman and a sexual predator capable of the unthinkable. The result is a fugue state where hours, then days, are lost to Prior's conscious mind, and he fears what he might have done during the lost time. Especially once a childhood friend ends up in jail.As Dr. Rivers struggles to help Prior and prevent his complete devolvement into a split personality, the doctor also wrestles with his own struggles with integration. Academically he thinks of the terms he and Dr. Head used during their nerve regeneration studies described in Regeneration: protopathic being the state of extreme pain that has an all or nothing quality and is difficult to locate precisely, and epicritic, or the ability to feel gradations and to precisely locate stimuli. The epicritic system provides the body with accurate information and the ability to control the more extreme reactions of the protopathic state.Inevitably, as time went on, both words had acquired broader meanings so that 'epicritic' came to stand for everything rational, ordered, cerebral, objective, while 'protopathic' referred to the emotional, the sensual, the chaotic, the primitive. In this way the experiment both reflected Rivers's internal divisions and supplied him with a vocabulary in which to express them. He might almost have said with Henry Jekyll: It was on the moral side, and in my own person, that I learned to recognize the thorough and primitive duality of man; I saw that, of the two natures that contended in the field of my consciousness, even if I could rightly be said to be either, it was only because I was so radically both...Eventually Dr. Rivers comes to the conclusion that Perhaps, contrary to what was usually supposed, duality was the stable state; the attempt at integration, dangerous.As Dr. Rivers strives to help his patients and himself, the British homefront is in a social frenzy. Tiring of the war and eager to lash out, the country focuses on two targets: pacificists and homosexuals. The attack on pacificists leads to arrests and brutal means of forcing them to recant and support the war. The assault on homosexuals takes the form of the infamous "Black Book" with its list of 47,000 supposed homosexuals that were allegedly being blackmailed into helping the Germans, and the Pemberton Billing court case. The result of this social distrust was an Orwellian atmosphere where people feared that Big Brother was watching their private lives though "an eye in the door". The history of the attacks on these groups is both the background to the story and an enlargement upon it. The author is deft in bringing the large and the small together in a seamless manner.Part historical commentary and part psychological and philosophical studies, The Eye in the Door leaves the reader with much to ponder. While it might
writestuff on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The second novel in Pat Barker¿s WWI trilogy - The Eye in the Door - is all about duality. Set in the spring of 1918 with Britain fearing defeat at the hands of Germany, the book centers around the British government¿s effort to find scapegoats to blame in the guise of pacifists and homosexuals. Barker uses the historic trial of Maud Allan vs. Pemberton Billing as the central event around which the plot weaves. The trial was a sham of sorts - with the lead Justice losing control over the court and the star defense witness for Billing being Harold Spencer - a lunatic who was obsessed with `women who had hypertrophied and diseased clitorises, and therefore could be satisfied only by bull elephants.`In this second novel, Barker brings back Billy Prior who is working for the Ministry of Munitions (having been unable to return to the fighting in France due to uncontrolled asthma). Billy¿s role of government ¿spy¿ to uncover pacifists and homosexuals conflicts with his own confused identity - he has a girlfriend, but engages in homosexual relationships. In addition to Billy, Siegfried Sassoon (a poet and war hero) and Dr. Rivers (noted psychiatrist) also make a return to the pages of this sequel.Thematically, Barker focuses on the paranoia rampant in British society during this time in history. The notion of duality is played out for each character - with Billy having unexplained blackouts where his alter ego carries on without his input; as well as the disassociation of Sassoon¿s personality (pacifist vs. military officer).'Siegfried had always coped with the war by being two people: the anti-war poet and pacifist; the bloodthirsty, efficient company commander.' - from The Eye in the Door, page 233 -Even Dr. Rivers suffers from a conflict with the two sides of his personality and begins to question whether the integration of self is advisable. 'Perhaps, contrary to what was usually supposed, duality was the stable state; the attempt at integration, dangerous.' - from The Eye in the Door, page 235 -The Eye in the Door is a complex, psychological novel about the impact of war on the minds of soldiers. But it also goes deeper to explore the idea of the dual nature of an individual. This is a dark novel which can be dry and difficult to read at times. Barker¿s writing is good, her characters are complicated¿and yet I felt myself drifting at times.For those readers who enjoy historical fiction which is also deeply philosophical, this is a novel worth reading. I should also add a cautionary note that there is some graphic sex described in the novel which may be offensive to some readers.
bxdoc on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
very much a book about duality.each character struggles with an internal conflict--most dramatically Prior, who has blackouts in which a "second" personality emerges and behaves in away he can't remember or explain. Does he betray his childhood friend Mac? It appears that he does. His sexuality, though he seems less conflicted about it, isn't completely clear. He seems a sexual omnivore. any partner will do. Unlike others who are closeted and more guilt-ridden. Baker does a terrific job in bringing her well-rounded characters to life while weaving in all the social class and psychological aspects of the war. Looking foward to the last book in the trilogy.
CBJames on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Eye in the Door by Pat Barker is the second part of her "Regeneration" trilogy. (You can read my review of the first part here.) The books follow several soldiers returned to England from fighting in the trenches of the first world war to the care of psychiatrist, Dr. Rivers. Ms. Barker mixes historical figures with imagined characters to create a fascinating cross-section of people facing the difficulties of soldiers trying to cope with the mental breakdowns brought on them by war. The main characters in this volume are Dr. Rivers and Billy Prior. Billy Prior appeared on the road to recovery by the end of the first volume. He is not physically well enough to go back into the battlefield but he is able to work for the military on the home front. He is given a position with the Ministry of Munitions and assigned the job of dealing with pacifist groups. One reason why he is given this assignment is that so many pacifists are part of his circle of longtime friends. His superiors believe this will give him insight into finding and arresting them. There is no room for dissent in wartime England as far as those in charge are concerned. That opposition to World War I in England was so strong, may come as a surprise to many American readers.Dr. Rivers has moved on from Craiglockhart Hospital where he worked in the first novel, to a research/treatment facility in London. He continues to work with his longtime patient poet Siegfried Sassoon who has returned to his care once again, unable to face the trauma of the battlefield after all. Siegfried and Billy both share their lives and secrets with Dr. Rivers as his patients and as his friends. The overarching conflict the characters face in The Eye in the Door is the witch hunt against gay men and lesbians underway in England during the second half of the war. The war was not going well and people needed a scapegoat. An opportunistic politician has seized the moment to publish his claim that a list of 47,000 people was in his position, that this list came from a German source, and that the people on the list planned to weaken the English forces by leading them down the path of Sodom. His claim is taken very seriously; anyone with even a remote connection to anything suspicious is in danger of arrest. Even solders like Prior and Sassoon who are decorated heroes. (Sound at all familiar?) Dr. Rivers patient Charles Manning fears that attending Maud Allen's production of Salome will put him at risk. Sassoon's friend Robert Ross is under assult for his connections to the play and to Oscar Wilde. This echo of the Oscar Wilde trials adds an interesting layer of history to the novel. While millions of soldiers died in France, the English papers were obsessed with Maud Allen's production of Oscar Wilde's controversial play.Ms. Barker's writint style is deceptively simple. She tells her story in a very straightforward manner and, for the most part, without great flourishes of drama. These books remind me of Olivia Manning's Balkan Trilogy. They take their time; revelling in the accumulation of detail rather than in dramatic twists. They work to create fully fleshed out characters that have their own lives inside and outside of the novels. If Ms. Barker's writing appears to lack poetry it is because her main concern is character, but don't let this fool you. Her writing is terrific.Look at the opening paragraph I've quoted above. In these two sentences Ms. Barker has illuminated the conflict Prior, Sassoon and soldiers like him feel when mixing with civilians. The setting is the Serpetine bridge in Hyde Park. (I had to look that up.) This area of the park has been a cruising ground for men looking to meet other men for sex which describes the bisexual Billy Prior quite well. The tulips stand in rows, formal, like soldiers on parade. But they are flowers, something completely frivolous at a time when millions of young men were dying horrible deaths in trench warfare. The rows of tulips are tight-l
d.homsher on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
World War I veteran, Prior, is tormented by his memories and the sense that he, and many of his broken comrades, are now split in half, doomed to live double lives.The second book in Barker's WWI trilogy, grounded in her study of the science of psychology at the time. The main character, Prior, is an intelligence agent, torn by the fact that he must investigate (and perhaps has betrayed) old friends who were implicated in anti-war activities. England is full of rumors and fears, especially concerning homosexuals and their effect on the nation. Oscar Wilde gets a nod. Prior himself has had male lovers, a fact that intensifies his sense that he's bursting, boiling with secrets, some of them as yet unknown to him, undiscovered by him.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I wasn't sure if it would be possible for Pat Barker to top "Regeneration," but "The Eye in the Door" does just that. Three of the main characters of "Regeneration" show up here, a year after their sessions in a Scottish rehab hospital for emotionally scarred WWI British soldiers. The focus here is on Billy Prior, a lieutenant whose war traumas worsen while he becomes involved in an investigation into a trumped up charge of political assassination to war protesters from his old neighborhood. Barker's mastery of dialog between the caring doctor Rivers and his disturbed patients never ceases to impress. The novel is based on actual scapegoating that went on in Britain during the Great War, and it's to Pat Barker's great credit that the "real" characters and the fictional are equally believable. "The Eye in the Door," by the way, can stand on its own as a read, though I'd highly recommend reading "Regeneration" first.
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