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L'accord des verbes en français : ce que vous avez toujours voulu savoir photo

L’accord des verbes en français : ce que vous avez toujours voulu savoir

Quand vous êtes prof de français, votre entourage vous considère comme une grammaire sur pattes. Ainsi, dès que par malheur, vous laissez traîner une faute dans la carte de noël que vous envoyez, c’est parti pour dix ans de brimades !

Et puis, quand se pose une question d’orthographe épineuse, votre portable devient une véritable hotline…

dictionnaire

Les accords du verbe

La règle générale est simple : le sujet s’accorde en nombre avec le verbe. Ainsi, de façon tout à fait logique, si le verbe a plusieurs sujets, il se met au pluriel.

Pour le moment, aucun problème. Mais certains cas particuliers posent souvent question et sont donc bons à connaître:

1. Doit-on dire “c’est des beaux enfants” ou “ce sont de beaux enfants” ?

En langage de grammaire, cette formule “c’est” ou son équivalent pluriel “ce sont” s’appelle un présentatif.

En fait, qu’importe son nom pour comprendre cette règle qui est totalement logique:

  • Lorsque le présentatif est suivi d’un nom singulier, le verbe est au singulier: “c’est”. Exemple : c’est un bel enfant.
  • Lorsque le présentatif est suivi d’un nom pluriel, le verbe est au pluriel : “ce sont”. Exemple : ce sont de beaux enfants.

Mais attention, au risque de choquer les puristes, depuis les années 70, devant un nom au pluriel, on admet aussi bien le verbe au singulier ou au pluriel.

En bref, c’est comme vous voulez : “ce sont de beaux enfants” ou “c’est de beaux enfants”sont tous deux acceptés !

2.  Doit-on dire “une multitude de personnes viendra” ou “une multitude de personnes viendront” ?

Ce type de mots (une foule de, une armée de, une multitude, un tas, etc) s’appelle un nom collectif.

Si le nom collectif est employé seul (par exemple : une foule viendra/ une armée se battra / un tas se trouve là), aucun problème, l’accord est simple et logique :

  • si le nom est au singulier, le verbe est au singulier.
  • si le nom est au pluriel, le verbe est au pluriel.

    Par exemple : Une foule se disperse / Des foules se dispersent

Mais attention, si le nom collectif est suivi d’un complément au pluriel (exemple : une foule de personnes / une armée de guerriers / un tas de cailloux), c’est là qu’il faut réfléchir à ce que l’on veut vraiment dire. Deux cas de figure:

  • soit le nom collectif (le tas, l’armée) est ce dont on parle vraiment.

Par exemple, dans “quel tas de cailloux énorme !“, c’est le tas qui est gros, et peu importe qu’il soit de cailloux ou de terre, c’est de lui dont on parle.

Dans ce cas, on accorde le verbe au singulier. Le tas de cailloux est très haut.

  • soit le nom collectif sert à désigner la quantité, le grand nombre.

Par exemple : un tas d’hommes ont combattu : c’est sur la quantité, le grand nombre d’hommes que l’on cherche à insister (et on pourrait remplacer le mot “tas” par “multitude”, sans que ça change le sens de la phrase).

Dans ce cas, on accorde le verbe au pluriel pour mettre en valeur cette notion de grand nombre.

En bref, dans “une multitude de personnes”, le nom collectif “multitude” sert à désigner le grand nombre de personnes : il faudra dire par conséquent “une multitude de personnes viendront”.

Maintenant, vous êtes incollables sur les accords du verbe !

Don Álvaro o la Fuerza del Sino por el Duque de Rivas photo

Don Álvaro o la Fuerza del Sino por el Duque de Rivas

Ángel de Saavedra, Duque de Rivas

Ángel de Saavedra, Duque de Rivas, nació en Córdoba el 10 de Marzo de 1791 y murió en Madrid el 22 de Junio de 1865. De familia aristocrática, recibió una vasta educación, con gran influencia de la cultura francesa, que motivó su gusto por la literatura y el dibujo.

Poeta y autor español, Ángel de Saavedra tuvo una vida atormentada. Criado en el seminario de los Nobles de Madrid, fue nombrado oficial de la guardia del Rey y se distinguió en la guerra de la Independencia (1808); condenado a muerte por Fernando VII a causa de sus ideas liberales, consiguió huir y vivió como exiliado durante diez años en Inglaterra, Italia, Malta y Francia.

Vuelve a España tras la amnistía de 1834, hereda el titulo de Duque y una gran fortuna; convertido al conservadurismo, es ministro, presidente del Consejo de Estado, embajador, director de la Real Academia de la Lengua.

Sus primeras poesías y sus primeros dramas muestran la influencia del neoclasicismo (Meléndez, Valdez y Quintana). Luego, el autor se orienta deliberadamente hacia el Romanticismo, con tres obras especialmente célebres.

La primera es un poema en doce romances: El Moro Expósito (1834), que trata de la leyenda del bastardo Mudarra y de sus hermanos. Es un fresco realista y fantástico de las civilizaciones árabe y cristiana en la España de la Edad Media.

El prólogo fue escrito por Alcalá Galiano. Don Álvaro o la fuerza del sino, cuya primera representación tuvo lugar en Madrid en 1835, representó el triunfo del Romanticismo sobre el Escenario; este drama fue en España lo que Hernani había sido en Francia.

Las trágicas aventuras de un héroe perseguido por el sino, el misterio, el amor y la muerte, con una mezcla de tipos y de tonos, lances imprevistos, etc.

Todo contribuye a crear una ilustración clamorosa del romanticismo. El Duque de Rivas se inspiró en la vida real: tuvo una propiedad, “La Jarilla”, en Hornachuelos y conoció la leyenda de la “Mujer Penitente”. Verdi se inspiró en este éxito para su ópera, La Forza del Destino (1862).

El último título glorioso del Duque son sus Romances históricos (1841), que trata de personajes y peripecias de la historia nacional, desde el reinado de Pedro El Cruel hasta la batalla de Bailén.

El Duque de Rivas, tras una vida plena, murió en 1865, pocos días después de la muerte de Antonio Galiano, su gran amigo.

Resumen

Don Álvaro, un indiano rico y misterioso que vive en Sevilla, tiene un romance con doña Leonor, hija del Marqués de Calatrava. Como éste no aprueba esos amores, don Álvaro decide raptar de su casa a doña Leonor. En la huida de los amantes, el Marqués muere accidentalmente. Este hecho da inicio a la tragedia de los protagonistas.

Los enamorados desaparecen. Doña Leonor vive oculta durante un año, de modo que todos, incluso don Álvaro, la creen muerta. Después, se retira al monasterio de los Ángeles, en Hornachuelos.

Don Álvaro viaja a Italia. Los dos hijos del Marqués, don Carlos y don Alfonso, han jurado vengar la muerte de su padre y salen en busca del indiano. En Veletri se encuentran y reconocen don Álvaro y don Carlos, lo que lleva a un duelo donde perece don Carlos. Don Álvaro sobrevive y se refugia en el convento de los Ángeles, en España, donde vive como fraile durante cuatro años.

Por su parte, don Alfonso, que había viajado a Perú, descubre toda la verdad sobre don Álvaro y regresa a buscarle. Segundo duelo obligado, en el cual cae herido don Alfonso. Ambos descubren que doña Leonor vive en la cercana ermita, y don Alfonso, creyéndola cómplice de don Álvaro, la mata.

Para don Álvaro, la única escapatoria a su destino es el suicidio, de modo que se arroja desde la montaña diciendo: «Yo soy un enviado del infierno, soy el demonio exterminador».

Estructura

Este drama está divido en cinco jornadas, cosa típica del teatro neoclásico. Podemos ver que Don Álvaro o la fuerza del sino tiene todas las características del teatro romántico en cuanto a historia, temas y estilo. Pero, en lo que se refiere a las normas neoclásicas de las tres unidades, el Duque de Rivas se tomó muchas libertades:

  • Hay diferentes lugares, de España a Italia.
  • El drama cubre un periodo de cinco años.
  • Hay una acción principal, pero también se intercalan historias costumbristas y cotidianas.

Las differentes jornadas

Primera Jornada

La escena empieza en Sevilla y sus alrededores, cerca del puente de Triana, con la escena cotidiana de un aguaducho. Están presentes el tío Paco, el oficial, una gitanilla que dice la buenaventura.

Observamos un cambio de decoración en la escena V, cuando estamos en casa de Doña Leonor.

Jornada Segunda

La escena tiene lugar en la villa de Hornachuelos, en Córdoba y sus alrededores. Estamos en el mesón de Monipodio. Están presentes el mesonero y la mesonera, un alcalde, un estudiante, un arriero y el tío Trabuco.

La acción principal consiste en el estudiante hablando con mucha cultura y burlándose un poco de los otros, incultos.

Se cambia la decoración en la escena III, nos hallamos en el exterior del monasterio de los Ángeles.

Jornada Tercera

La escena tiene lugar en Italia, en Veletri y sus alrededores. Cuatro oficiales jugando a los naipes. Estamos en una sala. Hay un cambio de decoración en la escena III: aparece una selva. También en la escena V: el teatro representa un risueño campo de Italia.

Otro cambio en la escena VII: estamos en el alojamiento de un oficial superior.

Jornada Cuarta

La escena tiene lugar en Veletri. Esta jornada es la única que no empieza con una escena costumbrista. Nos hallamos de nuevo en el alojamiento militar. La escena II se desarrolla fuera.

El lugar es la plaza principal de Veletri. Están presentes el teniente, el subteniente, Pedraza y unos oficiales. Podemos considerar esta escena como la escena costumbrista.

Jornada Quinta

La escena se desarrolla en el convento de los Ángeles y sus alrededores. Consiste en la sopa del convento. Hay mendigos y lisiados, el Padre Guardián y el Hermano Melitón.

En la escena IV, nos encontramos en una celda. Después, en la escena VIII, volvemos al lugar de la escena I. en la escena IX, nos hallamos fuera, el teatro representa un valle. En este lugar finaliza el drama.

En total, en toda la obra se producen quince cambios de decorado. En cuanto al tiempo, entre el fin de la jornada cuarta y la jornada quinta se produce un salto temporal: Don Álvaro lleva cuatro años retirado en el monasterio de los Ángeles.

Tenemos así que cuatro de las cinco jornadas empiezan con una escena costumbrista, que dan un colorido de romance popular, en contraste con las escenas nobles.

Temas principales

Uno de los temas es el tradicional de la venganza, sobre todo expresada en forma de duelo. Ese anhelo de vengarse parece salvar la honra familiar que ha sufrido una ofensa. En la obra, la furia del Marqués se transforma en deseo de venganza que pasa, como una obligación, a sus hijos.

El inicio del problema está en el amor, o mejor dicho la pasión entre don Álvaro y doña Leonor, que será muy breve porque será destruido por los deberes que la sociedad imponen y por la familia de Leonor.

Pero el tema principal es siempre “la fuerza del sino”, es decir la fatalidad que se abate sobre don Álvaro hasta su muerte. En efecto, esta fatalidad le impedirá vivir su amor con doña Leonor, y acabará matando al Marqués y a sus hijos.

Don Álvaro se sentirá entonces culpable por sus actos y huirá, hasta recluirse durante cuatro años en la soledad de un convento. Por último, pasando de fraile a enviado del infierno, don Álvaro se suicida considerándose «demonio exterminador» y pidiendo al infierno que se lo trague.

Don Álvaro no ha salvado su alma, no ha recibido la divina misericordia. Es éste el conflicto típicamente romántico: el hombre entre Dios y el mundo.

Personajes importantes

Don Álvaro es un indiano rico y de misterioso origen que vive en Sevilla. Está muy enamorado de doña Leonor y quiere fugarse con ella para casarse. Podemos ver a Don Álvaro como la personificación del ser romántico: su sentimiento interior es una mezcla indisoluble de dolor y soledad, y se ve dominado por el destino.

Además, idealiza la amistad, el honor y el amor: por esa razón, siempre se verá decepcionado por la vida terrenal y la única escapatoria a su destino será el suicidio.

Doña Leonor es una doncella aristocrática cuya pasión por don Álvaro provoca inexorablemente los tormentos del alma de su amante y le conduce a la culminación de un destino fatal. Leonor huye a un convento, pasa del sentimiento amoroso al sentimiento de culpa, que a su vez da lugar a la penitencia, en la cual encuentra la muerte.

El Marqués de Calatrava es el padre de doña Leonor, don Carlos y don Alfonso. Parece rígido porque se opone rotundamente a la boda de su hija con don Álvaro, por considerar al pretendiente un aventurero advenedizo. Pero no es la suya la figura de la severidad autoritaria, sino la de un padre que sólo quiere proteger a su hija.

El Marqués sorprende a los dos amantes y trata de impedir su huida pero muere accidentalmente, herido de muerte por el arma de don Álvaro.

Don Carlos es el primer hijo del Marqués. Busca vengar la muerte de su padre y lavar la afrenta a su familia con la sangre de don Álvaro. Se encuentra con don Álvaro y hace amistad con él hasta que descubre su identidad, lo cual lleva al duelo en que perece.

El funesto fin de Don Carlos puede asimilarse al principio vigente en la sociedad de la época: el principio de morir para vengar la honra escarnecida.

Don Alfonso es el segundo hijo del Marqués. También él quiere matar a don Álvaro y a doña Leonor. Encuentra a don Álvaro en un convento y le reta a un duelo, encontrando también él la muerte, no sin antes descubrir la presencia de su hermana en dicho convento y matarla, destrozando una vez más las esperanzas del amante.

Don Alfonso representa la funesta realización del dichoso destino de los dos amantes.

Otros personajes

El ámbito social abarca desde la nobleza de sangre real hasta los mendigos. El ejército está representado por múltiples estamentos: desde el grado de teniente coronel al de preboste u ordenanza. Para la religión tenemos en primer lugar a los franciscanos: Padre Guardián, definido como un siervo de Dios, y el Hermano Melitón, fraile gruñón pero gracioso.

También tenemos al canónigo, digno y prudente, que da lugar a toda la tragedia, y un capellán de regimiento. El alcalde representa la vida política. Encontramos también a un capitán, un cirujano, un estudiante parlanchín, arrieros, un aguador, mesoneros y criados.

Al lado de todos estos personajes, vemos a una gitana, Preciosilla, que parece inspirada en la Gitanilla de Cervantes, el ventero Monipodio, un pícaro sevillano y Félix de Avendaña.

Por último, don Álvaro se presenta con falsas identidades: el militar don Fadrique (que fue realmente hijo de Alfonso XI y de Leonor de Guzmán) y el Padre Rafael en el convento de los Ángeles.

Lengua y efectos estilísticos

Los cincos actos o jornadas, típicos del teatro neoclásico, tienen un doble ritmo: lento y moroso en los deliciosos cuadros de costumbres, rápido y precipitado cuando se pone en tensión el hilo argumental.

El Romanticismo acepta la mezcla de prosa y verso, contradiciendo así la estética neoclásica. El Duque de Rivas, para el verso, admite la diversidad métrica del Barroco, utilizando la redondilla, el romance, la silva y la décima. En Don Álvaro encontramos también unas seguidillas.

La única ley romántica es la ley de la libertad: no son las formas las que se imponen al poeta, es el poeta el que las somete a su sentimiento. Varias asonancias sirven de motivo sentimental que a veces hace adquirir al romance un aire particularmente sinfónico.

La versificación de Don Álvaro es desigual: a veces robusta, bastante fluida y con pocos ripios; llena de prosaísmo en otros casos. Las escenas de rigor argumental están en verso y las episódicas y costumbristas en prosa; con excepción de la escena final de la primera jornada, escrita en prosa rápida, detonante de gritos y maldiciones, y de las dos últimas escenas del drama, con el terrible desenlace, también en prosa entrecortada por exclamaciones imprecatorias.

A través de esta obra, podemos notar la frecuente yuxtaposición de los estilos elevado y llano, la gran variedad y riqueza en el vocabulario y en la estructura de las frases, que ilustran perfectamente todas las situaciones y los estados de ánimo de los personajes.

Bibliografía consultada

  • Joaquín Casualdero, Estudios sobre el Teatro Español, publicado en Madrid por Gredos en 1962.
  • Gabriel Boussagnol, Angel de Saavedra, Duc de Rivas. Sa vie, son oeuvre, publicado en Toulouse en 1926.
  • Miguel de Toro y Gisbert, Larousse Universal, Diccionario en séis volúmenes (tomo tercero), publicado en 1968.
  • Duque de Rivas, Don Alvaro o la fuerza del sino (introducción), publicado en Madrid por Catedra – Letras Hispanícas en 1998, edición de Alberto Sanchez.
Doña Inés (Historia de Amor) por José Martínez Ruiz [Azorín] photo

Doña Inés (Historia de Amor) por José Martínez Ruiz [Azorín]

Autor y Obra

José Martínez Ruiz nació en Monóvar (Alicante) en 1873. Su padre era abogado y fue alcalde del pueblo. Su madre era una mujer discreta.

El deseo de escribir de Ruiz nació en su infancia, ya que su padre era un gran lector y su madre escribía en secreto. Tenía nueve hermanos. La experiencia del colegio le dejó recuerdos tristes.

Después del bachillerato, inició estudios de derecho en Valencia. Nunca obtuvo la licenciatura, aunque cambió varias veces de universidad. Pasaba mucho tiempo divertiéndose con espectaculos, teatro y corridas.

Empezó trabajando en periódicos locales, como El Mercantil, en el que adoptó su primer pseudonimo, Ahrimán.

En 1896, abandonó Valencia y se fue a Madrid donde enseguida encontró trabajo en la redacción de El País.

Fue expulsado en 1897 a causa de su oposición a las convenciones de la época. Durante ese año en Madrid escribió un diario : Charivari, que habla de El País.

Después, se fue a Cordoba y volvió a Monóvar. Regresó a Madrid para trabajar en la redacción de El Progreso.

En 1897, escribió solamente unos artículos. Escribió Los Hidalgos (la vida en el siglo XVII), publicado en 1899 y reeditó en 1900 El Alma Castellana. Presenta la vida histórica del pueblo, inspirado por el concepto de intra-historia de Unamuno.

Lire la suite

The plot in Regeneration by Pat Barker photo

A transformed vision of time in Regeneration

Introduction

Space, setting, the interaction between landscape and mindscape and the curious similarities between outdoors places in Scotland and the landscape of the Flanders correspond to the writer’s intention of similarity: the characters are so obsessed by the war that they see it in Scotland.

This obsession ultimately transforms their vision of time.

The present is the past

Indeed, the characters have no present. It applies to all traumatized soldiers:

  • conscious: remembering.
  • unconscious: hallucination

For instance, Sassoon had hallucinations (p.12): “the pavement was covered in corpses“. Then he says he had no more: the reader can doubt it:

  • p.5: “he saw lines of men“.
  • p.142: “with a crack like rifle fire“.

The same happens to Burns: (p.37): “a branch rattled like machine gun fire“.
And to Prior:

  • p.214: “the darkness, the nervousness, the repeated and unnecessary swallowing…
  • p.215: “at this distance, her eyes merged into a single eye“.He remembers the eye he held in the trenches.Love scene turned into a horror scene.

No future

If the past keeps coming back then there is no future.

  • p.118: Rivers’s analysis of Sassoon: “inability to envisage any kind of future“.
  • p.198: “it means you’re obsessed […] you never talk about the future anymore“.

A subjective vision of time

Read passage p.83-84 : conversation between Owens and Sassoon about the war.

Personal time

Interesting passage: 2 people in a hospital talking about their past experience. You would expect present tense to refer to the moment of enunciation and past tenses to refer to the war but here, present tenses are used to refer to the past:

  • “sometimes when you’re alone“.
  • and that makes it something you almost can’t challenge“.
  • what you see every night“.

When the present is used, “you” is used too. Both tense and pronoun have the effect of generalizing their experience so that their personal experience of the war is turned into a universal experience. What happened to them becomes exemplary.

B. Historical time

Generalization has the effect of blurring WW1 as an historical event and of presenting it as an a-historical event.

Owen:

  • you get sense of something ancient“.Owen takes the war out of the contemporary period.
  • men from Marlborough’s army“.He compares WW1 to very distant events in the past.
  • wars distilled themselves into that war“.Owen shows the similarities of all wars. World War One is the model, the paradigm of all wars.

Sassoon refers to the future. The result is the same: war loses its temporal and historical quality.

  • “I seemed to be seeing it from the future”.If he is in the future, then war represents the past.

War loses its historical quality. The common point is that war becomes a sort of symbolic representation of Time.

Time is movement but for them, time is eternal death.

The plot in Regeneration by Pat Barker photo

Landscape and mindscape in Regeneration

Study of a passage p.37-38: “he got off at the next stop […] whine of shells“.

This passage is not a dialogue. The narrator is telling us about Burns. Presence of realistic elements: stress on concrete details (“a tuft of grey wool“). Use of chronological order + realistic framework.

Everything is seen through Burns’s subjectivity: he is the central focalizer and we move from an objective description of landscape to a subjective mindscape.

Presence of subjectivity

Focalization

Burns is the focalizer (internal focalization): “looking up and down“. Burns does not only look, he feels trough his skin: “raindrops”, “burning round the knees”.

He also hears the pigeon.

Narration

Passage characterized with 3rd person narration. From time to time, the voice of the character emerges:

  • “it was so long since he’d been anywhere alone”.
  • “up, up”.

Burns is talking. The main effect is to reduce the distance between the reader and the character.

The impossible escape

Burns has left the hospital in an impulse. He does not know where he wants to go. His mental state is extremely fragile and even the traffic is too much for him. He favours a solitary place: “a hill”. Desire for escape:

  • out of hospital.
  • away from human beings.

The hill: a savage and desolate place. The stress is on the upward movement:

  • “up, up”
  • repetition of “hill”
  • “climbing”
  • “crest”

When there is an insistence on something in the text, it may have a symbolic meaning.

  • upward movement: usually trying to find a better world.
  • quite consistent with his desire to get away from human beings.
  • it is unconscious.

The problem is that he goes up but he is stopped: “way barred by a force”. His progression is hindered and he becomes a prisoner of Nature. Intention to move on: “he pressed two strands of wire apart” but failure: “catching his sleeve”. Then panic: “breaking into a sweat”. Burns tries to protect himself: “steeple of his cupped hands”.

There are 2 symbolic meanings:

  • protecting his breath,
  • steeple: symbol of the church.
    => he ought to take shelter.

An aggressive nature

3 elements out of 4 are present in the text:

  • Air: wind
  • Earth: mud
  • Water: rain

The 4 elements are necessary to life but here rain aggresses Burns and blinds him. No freedom. Air: high wind and maline intention (evil wind). “Snatching away” : the wind is trying to kill him.

The landscape of Scotland becomes the landscape of Flanders. Burns mistakes a place for another (confusion) and a moment for another: there is no present for Burns since what he lives is the war.

That is the way Pat Barker chose to express Burns’ trauma.

The plot in Regeneration by Pat Barker photo

Historical figures and fictional characters in Regeneration

How human beings presented in Regeneration are different from historical characters?

Paradoxically, several characters had real historical existence and yet, there is no difference between those who really existed and those invented: it seems that they are on the same level.

The major difference lays in characterization, i.e. the ways in which human beings are constructed in characters. In history books, the stress is usually on public life whereas in fiction the stress is on subjectivity.

Regeneration is a faithful evocation of World War One and the view of the war that is given is the juxtaposition of subjective views of characters.

Characterization

A – Places

Where are the characters presented ?

  • hospital + patients’ room [Private]
  • one of the character’s home [Private]
  • the lovers’ place [Intimate]
  • several passages showing Rivers in his bathroom (p.44) [Most private
    life
    ]

Lire la suite

The plot in Regeneration by Pat Barker photo

First dialogue between Rivers and Sassoon in Regeneration

Study of the passage p11-12: from “What kind of questions did they ask..” to “with quite a bit of his leg left inside“.

This is the first real dialogue between Rivers and Sassoon. Sassoon is presented as shell-shocked. This passage is composed of a dialogue and 12 lines of narrative. Most of the narrative comments describe Sassoon’s behaviour.

Dialogue and verisimilitude

Dialogue enhances verisimilitude. Rivers is a psychiatrist and Sassoon is the patient. It is a normal professional situation. The relations are based on dialogue.

The psychiatrist has to understand and must invite patients to talk to overcome the previous trauma.

“War neurosis”: technical language.

Dialogue and drama

Tension, conflictual situation.On the one hand, Rivers is a military psychiatrist whose duty is to heal the soldiers to send them back to the front in France. On the other hand, Sassoon is a poet who has written a protestation against the war.

The conflict is all the more obvious that there is no narrator in this passage. The two characters seem to address the reader directly.

Dialogue and character’s development

We learn about the characters when reading the dialogue. The dialogue is also used as stage directions: it has a theatrical function. Stage directions are indications of characters’ personality.

l.2: “Sassoon smiled“.
  • smile is not expected
  • ironical when he says “Don’t you know ?

He asks another question instead of answering. Non-answers. l.6: Sassoon describes the Board as “rather amusing” : flippant, arrogant, irony.

Flippancy changes with the psychological evolution of Sassoon.

l.23 : “looked surprised“.
From that point onwards, Sassoon is not so sure of himself.
Rivers managed to destabilize him.

l.33 : “Mad Jack” —– “looked taken aback
Even more destabilized.

l.37 : “ “Is it ?” Sassoon looked down at his hands“.
Avoids confrontation, playing hide and seek.

l.40 : “he looked up to see if he should continue“.
Sassoon recognizes that Rivers is a form of authority.

Dialogue and banishment of the past

The use of dialogue modifies temporality because historical events are suddenly brought out of the past into the present situation.The novel was written in 1991. The passage deals with 1917. A history book uses 3rd person and past tense.

Here, the past is made present in the dialogue. Sassoon speaks of his own time (immediate time), talks about his Board and some parts of his experience in France a few months before.

The period of time is reduced: the novel is situated in the First World War and 1917 becomes the temporal landmark.

Sassoon starts speaking in past tense but l.44 he reverts to sentences without verbs (nominal sentences). No verb means no passing of time, no past.l.46 : present tenses again.

The experience is so drastic that when speaking he is reliving the moment. Past becomes present again. That is exactly what Rivers had hoped for.

Technical remarks

  • indirect speech: the disappearance of the past.
  • l.5: Sassoon reports the question he was asked. For us readers, it is as
    if we witnessed the scene of the Board: it is shown more than told.
The plot in Regeneration by Pat Barker photo

The plot in Regeneration by Pat Barker

Is Regeneration a novel with a plot ?

It is not as obvious as in a detective story.

I. Sassoon’s transformation

Must be seen in the changes that occurred between the beginning and the end of the novel. At the beginning, Sassoon has just protested against fighting the war.

In the end, something has changed: “no, I want to go back” (p.213). He has stopped his protest and has made the decision to go back to the front. He hesitates between protesting and going back. See p.118, paragraph 2: he is changing his mind.

II. Rivers’ transformation

At the beginning, Rivers has a very clear cut attitude: the soldiers must go back to the front when they are better. It is his “duty” (p.48). “Duty” is a very important word for Rivers. He is a military psychiatrist: a doctor but also an army officer.

p.164: “look […] I do the job“.
Not even a question of choice, he is an officer with responsibilities. Military pressure too: there were no reasons of not continuing the war at the beginning.

Lire la suite

The plot in Regeneration by Pat Barker photo

The setting in Regeneration by Pat Barker

A hostile nature

Use of an adjective of color (yellow)

The sun and the light are described as yellow, which is a warm color not normally applied to natural light.

  • p.175, l.2: “fading to yellow“. Yellow not presented as a bright color, paradox.
  • p.128: “yellowing of the light“, “sulfurous“. Attribute of Lucifer, negative connotation.
  • p.199: “like an artificial sunset“.The natural light of the sun has gone. Yellow is linked to the war.

Yellow is associated with light, with Sarah’s skin (because of the ammo factory). It has a negative connotation. This is a subversion of nature. The sun is expected to give light. Here it is the ammo factory that gives light.

Light is the symbol of life whereas war is related to death: there is a subversion of the normal use of life and light.

Lire la suite

English Literature

Narratives

Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad

Macbeth by William Shakespeare

A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

Richard III by William Shakespeare

World War One Poetry

Regeneration by Pat Barker

Introduction to Regeneration by Pat Barker photo

Introduction to Regeneration by Pat Barker

Regeneration has to do with World War One (WW1) and it is visible right from its cover. The novelist, Pat Barker is one of the first women writers who have written about the Great War.

Pat Barker is a university-trained historian and this is confirmed by the presence of very reliable sources in the “Author’s Notes”, at the end of the novel.

Regeneration is a historical novel on the surface but is really more than that.

I. Historical accuracy

Several elements allow us to consider Regeneration as historically exact.

A. Real elements

1 – Real people

In the novel, there is a whole list of characters who have really existed.

Several characters like Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfried Owen, and Robert Graves were both poets and soldiers during the war.

The two psychiatrists also existed: Rivers had very modern Freudian views and Yealland did apply his own methods as it is described in the novel.

Pacifists like Lady Morrel and Bertrand Russel are real people. Important to note that pacifism was strictly forbidden at the time.

Thus, this novel is a mixture of real people and characters: Burns, for instance, is a total invention.

2 – Real facts and events

There are numerous references to battles (e.g.: the battle of the Somme) and places (e.g.: Flanders, Belgium). Yet, the major place is Craiglockheart, where the action takes place.

Regeneration is also historical because of its treatment of realism.

B. Realism

Some characters are real but some are pure inventions from the part of Pat Barker. The general type of writing is realistic. Here are some elements that highlight this.

1 – Landscape

It is the landscape of war throughout the testimony of the patients and more especially trench warfare. Regeneration insists on the presence of corpses, mud, and rats…

2 – Soldiering

That is the life the soldiers had in the trenches. Realistic writing likes to insist on things that are disagreeable and wants to show reality as it is (not hide anything). Pat Barker gives the reader lots of details about life in the trenches:

“It was flooded. You stand the whole time. Most of the time in pitch darkness because the blast kept blowing the candles out. We were packed in so tight we couldn’t move. And they just went all out to get us. One shell after the other. I lost two sentries. Direct hit on the steps. Couldn’t find a thing.”
“And you had forty-eight hours of that ?”
“Fifty. The relieving officer wasn’t in a hurry.” (p52)

“Your watch is brought back by a runner, having been synchronized at headquarters.” A long pause. “You wait, you try to calm down anybody who’s obviously shitting himself or on the verge of throwing up. You hope you won’t do either of those things yourself. Then you start the count down: ten, nine, eight… so on. You blow the whistle. You climb the ladder. Then you double through a gap in the wire, lie flat, wait for somebody else to get out – and then you stand up. And you start walking. Not at the double. Normal walking speed.” Prior started to smile. “In a straight line. Across open country. In broad daylight. Towards a line of machine-guns.” (p78)

There is no commentary at all. All we have is action. There is no attempt at hiding reality: Prior says it as it is. It is clearly opposed to propaganda, where soldiers are always presented as great heroes.

3 – Horror

Throughout Regeneration, there is an insistence on physical suffering as well as on mental suffering, which is the major aspect of the novel. The symptoms are all exact, they have been studied by doctors (historically genuine).

Several soldiers have twitching of the head (spasmodic movement), stammering, anorexia.

Some became mute (e.g.: Prior) or have mental paralysis, hallucinations (CF p12), terrible nightmares (cannot sleep anymore) or phobias (Anderson cannot see blood any longer).

CF p102 from “He’d gone….eye”.

This is a key passage. The notion of eye may be a reference to the second volume of Regeneration, which is entitled The Eye in the Door.

Let us study the realistic elements in this excerpt to see how realism functions:

  • the characters’ names: Logan is a Christian family name, calling people with family name tends to create a familiarity with the reader.
  • setting: the trench. Very material details and a description of life in the trenches.
  • the person telling the story was there: Prior is an eyewitness.
  • factual style: very dry sort of style. Short sentence. No linkwords. No comments. The narrator wants the facts to speak for themselves.
  • insistence on all that is horrible: vomiting, putting human flesh in a bag, finding an eye.
  • temporal development of the passage. The reader is not prepared for the last sentence. No building-up. It is when the reader thinks the action is over that Prior finds the eye. Pat Barker is trying to put the reader in a situation where he expects to find vomit but no such thing as an eye.
  • traumatic reading experience, aiming at being as brutal as possible.

On the whole, due to the many references to real events and people, it might be tempturous to consider Regeneration as a historical document. In fact, history is subdued to fiction.

II. History is subdued to fiction

A. Representation of the war

1 – Dramatization

Is not something to be found in historical documents. See passage p160: Sarah is here with her friend. The setting is realist: it is an overcrowded hospital. Insistence on all that is horrible (opposed to romanticism).

Pat Barker wants to tell the truth at all cost but the text cannot be reduced to realism : a historical document aims at objectivity and this passage is purely subjective.

a) focalization

Through whose eyes is the scene seen ? Focalization is a question of viewpoint. In this excerpt, the scene is seen through Sarah’s eyes. It has several effects and consequences on the reader: he identifies with Sarah thanks to the many verbs of perception, shift from objective verbs (see) to more subjective verbs (seem, look).

Through the verbs of perception, the reader learns about the soldiers and about Sarah’s emotions. Focalization creates subjectivity.

b) narration

The narrator is the one who tells the story. He is a third-person narrator, i.e. an independent voice (different from a character’s), just like in history books. Yet , there is a shift from 3rd person narrator to Sarah’s voice.

  • she backed out“: indirect speech, narrator
  • but no, she thought“: form of emotion and later free indirect speech, Sarah’s voice.

We are finally placed in Sarah’s mind. Subjective element.

c) dramatization

Not a cold, neutral description. If we can feel emotions or reactions, we must find all the triggering elements.

  • Suspense
    • “before she saw them”: at that point we do not know what “them” represents: it creates a form of suspense
    • “a row of figures in wheelchairs”: stress on the form, not on humanity.
  • Different places : Sarah is entering the room: the “threshold” is the symbolical line separating two worlds.
    • Outside: the stress is on the sun, the light (“dazzled”). World of light and health.
    • Inside: absence of light (“dim”). World of half-life, half-death. This symbolical opposition is part of the dramatization effect.
  • Tension between the wounded soldiers and the young woman : conflict between the pretty girl (seduction) and the wounded (not handsome any longer because of their mutilations).

Internal conflict too: “thinking that perhaps if…” and then “but no…”

Thus, this passage is certainly not an objective evocation of mutilated soldiers during WW1.

It is as much about Sarah as it is about the war: her awakening to the horror of the war and to political consciousness.

2 – How can we differentiate Regeneration from a history book ?

a) Time

There are very few dates in the novel. Chronology is disrupted by a lot of flashbacks. The novel is based on a series of scenes and dialogues.

b) Subjectivity

The novel is based on revolt and anger. Sassoon has really existed and protested against the war, though he was not a pacifist.

Ironical tone (cf Prior p78). The use of italics has the effect of foregrounding Prior’s voice (personal experience). Book: a mixture of irony and anger. The irony is absent from history books.

c) Textuality

Presence of stylistic devices: literariness has been precisely worked upon to create some effect. See p.16 – 79 – 83

p.16: passage from “At one point…” to “tree”.
“like the roots of an overturned tree” : simile.

p.79: passage “I looked back… down.”

“writhing”: movement of a snake

“like fish in a pond”

“fluttering down” : evokes birds, butterflies

p.83: passage “You know…..” : “like mushrooms”.

All these examples are comparisons (similes and metaphors) between:

  • the wounded and the animals
  • dead bodies and plants.

It creates an effect of dehumanization.

Skulls and mushrooms => notion of proliferation. Plants: something growing, the embodiment of life. Here, it means death. Very brutal effect on the reader because it is not expected.

War Poet : Wilfried Owen photo

War Poet : Wilfried Owen

Biography

Wilfried Owen was born in the West of England and educated in a technical college. He left England in 1913 to teach English in Bordeaux (France) and came back in 1915 to enlist.

He was soon commissioned and injured in March 1917. He was sent to Craiglockheart where he met Wilfried Sassoon. Returned to the Front in 1918 and was killed one week before the end of the war.

Owen found his own voice in the trenches, although he began writing poetry at an early age. Most of his poems were written between Summer 1917 and Autumn 1918. Only 5 of his poems were published in his lifetime.

His reputation slowly grew and now, he is regarded as a first-rank War poet, wooed for his bleak realism, his energy, his compassion, his high technical skills.

Two poets influenced Owen: Keats and Sassoon. The War had a very important impact on the quality of his verse.

What is remarkable is how he developed from an imitator of Keats to a major War poet. His meeting with Sassoon played a great key role too.

In Regeneration by Pat Barker, Sassoon encourages Owen to write poetry and says: “Sweat your guts writing poetry”.

Hence, in Owen’s poetry, the two influences are used:

  • the Keatian influence, visible in word music and lyric strain: the delightened competence in sound effect and rhythm, the use Owen makes of color, his determination to see beauty.
  • the Sassonian influence in Owen’s irony and realism : anger and ironic contrast, number of themes (eg: theme of “Disabled”). Owen adds a cosmic dimension thanks to Sassoon’s themes.

Pity is a key word in Owen’s poetry:

“Above all I’m not concerned with Poetry, my subject
is War and the pity of War. The Poetry is the pity.”