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Jacob's Room (Classic, 20th-Century,…

Jacob's Room (Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin) (original 1922; edition 1998)

by Virginia Woolf, Sue Roe (Contributor)

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1,661204,332 (3.49)1 / 153
Title:Jacob's Room (Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin)
Authors:Virginia Woolf
Other authors:Sue Roe (Contributor)
Info:Penguin Classics (1998), Paperback, 192 pages
Collections:Your library

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Jacob's Room by Virginia Woolf (1922)



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English (19)  French (1)  All languages (20)
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
[Jacob's Room] is Virginia Woolf's third novel and her first experimental novel. I didn't connect to it the same way I did to her later novels, but in the end I find myself intrigued by it.

Woolf chooses Jacob as her central character, a young man who you expect from the beginning will be the perfect age to die in WWI. Instead of letting the reader into his growth from childhood to young adulthood, Woolf holds the reader at arms length in favor of showing brief exterior experiences. Characters flit in and out of the book and Jacob goes through a string of women love interests. He starts the book as a young child, goes to school, and travels, but everything is shown in brief vignettes. There isn't much interior development of Jacob's feelings.

But Woolf's beautiful writing is expressive enough to carry the book. I love how she can capture the most mundane moment and make it seem unique. This book in particular is very visual. It does however, lack the structure that her later books have that keep things moving forward.

This is definitely a book to ponder and reread. Despite not having a satisfying connection to it the whole time I was reading it, I'm interested enough to count it as an enjoyable reading experience. ( )
1 vote japaul22 | Jun 20, 2016 |
This novel is a character study of a young man named Jacob. Woolf shows him to us in short snippets through the perceptions of other characters in his life, so we never get a really good representation of him.

While I don’t doubt the literary genius of Woolf or this novel, and while I like the general concept, I just couldn’t enjoy it because I couldn’t force myself to pay attention to what I was reading. The narrative jumped around so much that I got tired of trying to keep track of who was speaking and where we were. If I had done some research beforehand and had known more about the book before reading it, I might have enjoyed it more, but I’m not going to mess around with rereading it now. I think I just tackled this one at the wrong time. ( )
  AmandaL. | Jan 16, 2016 |
This short novel was my first experience of Virginia Woolf's writings. It is quickly read and not difficult at all to enjoy, like a walk through a park on a sunny day with interesting companions and only the weight of a picnic on your shoulders.
Though there is not much plot to this, it doesn't seem to matter; it is a literary novel.
What we do not learn about the characters is compensated by what we learn about how the world is variously perceived, or can be perceived. This is a novel of impressions of the world, recorded for their aesthetic qualities and largely indifferent to their moral or practical consequences for the characters. Hence it provides relief from the heavy novel.
What it did more than anything was inspire me to get up and just experience the world outside, anything, just to receive impressions of things for their own sake. This was perhaps not solely due to aesthetic stimulation, but also due to the ennui that seems contagious among the characters.
I would recommend this work and will read more Woolf in the future. ( )
  P_S_Patrick | Dec 12, 2014 |

Jacob's Room marked the genesis of the inventive style (where 'one thing should open out of another'—V.W., diary entry) that would evolve into the mastery Woolf displays in her later novels. It's possible that readers who have already come to appreciate the splendor of books such as To the Lighthouse and The Waves may be underwhelmed by this slender novel. However, it still has much to offer if one comes to it with the right frame of mind, namely that of not expecting perfection. Instead we find, in their embryonic stages, snatches of the cotton wool Woolf pulls apart so carefully for us to see in those later works.And the notes accumulate. And the telephones ring. And everywhere we go wires and tubes surround us to carry the voices that try to penetrate before the last card is dealt and the days are over. 'Try to penetrate', for as we lift the cup, shake the hand, express the hope, something whispers, Is this all? Can I never know, share, be certain? Am I doomed all my days to write letters, send voices, which fall upon the tea-table, fade upon the passage, making appointments, while life dwindles, to come and dine? Yet letters are venerable; and the telephone valiant, for the journey is a lonely one, and if bound together by notes and telephones we went in company, perhaps—who knows?— we might talk by the way.
( )
  S.D. | Apr 4, 2014 |
Virginia Woolf is an author I've always felt I should have read so I was thrilled when this novella showed up in the mail as part of the book club I belong too. The synapses didn't sound exactly thrilling but I was certainly game to reading this. The book started out great for me a we got to know Betty Flanders, and through her, her little boy, the middle son, Jacob. Then suddenly we are transported to Jacob at college and the story became very heavy for me as Jacob, his friend and professors rambled through academia. Oh my, I wanted to use my 50-page rule and DNF this book around this point but I decided to persevere because 1) the purpose of my belonging to this book club is to widen my range of "classic" authors and 2) it wouldn't take me that long to read it. So I gave myself 50 pages a day to read and finished in 4 days. As I started each day it was a hard slog but as I got into it about 25 pages I was enjoying the experience and pleased with my read at the end of my daily "section". There really isn't any plot here, I found Woolf's writing very vivid and expressive but sometimes was not sure what the point was. I enjoyed the parts where the women were the main focus and we learned of Jacob through their eyes, though we never really know Jacob at all. The parts where Jacob is the main focus or that are all men were really boring for me; I felt like Jacob needed a woman's touch to be interesting. I've heard Woolf's style of writing, "stream of consciousness" talked about so often that I was rather disappointed that I didn't really see what the big deal was. The narration does flow in a distracted sort of way with themes and topics popping up here and there as they come to mind but that didn't bother me; the only thing that annoyed me with the writing was that the omniscient, unknown narrator of this story would occasionally refer to themselves in the first person (*I* this, *I* that). Who are they and why do I care what they think? This suddenly feels like the author popping in and reminding me that I'm just reading her story. I'm glad I read this; I didn't dislike it; I wasn't entertained but I did find it interesting. I would, and do want to read Woolf's two famous books "To the Lighthouse" and "Mrs. Dalloway", just to say I have, and now at least I know what to expect and am not so daunted in picking them up. ( )
1 vote ElizaJane | Jun 6, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (24 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Woolf, Virginiaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alfsen, MereteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Banti, AnnaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fiedeldij Dop, JoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roe, SueEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"So of course," wrote Betty Flanders, pressing her heels rather deeper in the sand, "there was nothing for it but to leave."
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0156457423, Paperback)

The story of a man’s life from a day in his childhood to the day of his death. “Jacob’s Room...comes as a tremendous surprise. The impossible has occurred. The style closely resembles that of Kew Gardens....The break with Night and Day and even with The Voyage Out is complete. A new type of fiction has swum into view” (E. M. Forster).

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:36 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Jacob's Room is Virginia Woolf's first truly experimental novel. It is a portrait of a young man, who is both representative and victim of the social values which led Edwardian society into war. Jacob's life is traced from the time he is a small boy playing on the beach, through his years in Cambridge, then in artistic London, and finally making a trip to Greece, but this is no orthodox Bildungsroman. Jacob is presented in glimpses, in fragments, as Woolf breaks down traditional ways of representing character and experience. The novel's composition coincided with the consolidation of Woolf's interest in feminism, and she criticizes the privilege thoughtless smugness of patriarchy, "the other side," "the men in clubs and Cabinets." Her stylistic innovations are conscious attempts to realize and develop women's writing and the novel dramatizes her interest in the ways both language and social environments shape differently the lives of men and women.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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