Jacob's Room
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Jacob's Room

3.53 of 5 stars 3.53  ·  rating details  ·  4,003 ratings  ·  265 reviews
"Jacob's Room" is the third novel by Virginia Woolf, first published in 1922. It centres, in a very ambivalent way, around the life story of the protagonist Jacob Flanders. Set in pre-war England, the novel begins in Jacob's childhood and follows him through college at Cambridge, and then into adulthood. The story is told mainly through the perspectives of the women in Jac...more
Paperback, 124 pages
Published October 4th 2008 by Mondial (first published January 1st 1922)
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Agnieszka

Jacob's Room it is a life seen from the outside . Incomplete and blurred image of the young man . We observe his life as if in the mirror shards . We can only see his reflection in others eyes , only his silhouette in others tales . It makes us only casual observers and Jacob Flanders is still eluding us . His inner world remains closed to us. But can one really get to know other man ?

Nobody sees any one as he is, let alone an elderly lady sitting opposite a strange young man in a railway car...more
Nick Wellings
Not as good as To the Lighthouse, which is rather like quibbling over the comparative value of gold and diamonds. Much like Woolf's fictional concerns, both are, as legend has it, pretty much eternal. It is to her credit that Lighthouse shines bright even above the standards she established for herself and her readers: Jacob's Room burns with insight and wisdom. Many pages are truly beautiful. I'd write a love-letter to pages 56 and 57 which are actually peerless.

As usual, Woolf's concern for h...more
Moira Russell
Notes toward a review, maybe, later....

Didn't rewire my brain as radically as Anne Carson, but I'll really have to think before saying anything about it. The Notes, the REASON I bought this damned edition, were completely terrible. I was very unfond of Jacob. I think that comes partly from reading 'Three Guineas' before this -- he represents so much she turns sharply against later. But even her later opposition to patriarchy and the wars it wages is here -- that wonderfully chilling passage in t...more
Ashley Herring Blake
Although I am very nearly obsessed with Virginia Woolf, this book only gets 3 stars because she is so clever and poetic with words, not because this book, as a whole, was a great read. This was the first of her experimental, inner monologue style of writing fiction for which she is known and which she writes expertly in subsequent novels. Maybe it's because this is the first of that style, but I couldn't find any connecting point. Jacob, the protagonist, is only the main character as viewed thro...more
Bennet
So who is Jacob? Everyone wants to know. Everyone has an opinion. A few things are mostly agreed upon: he is a smart and handsome young man, and no doubt up to something, and prone to boating naked, and this in proper, pre-World War I England.

The story is like following Jacob around a rambling old house in the shoes of this or that observer(a friend, associate, aunt, lover), the rooms being this or that time, place and encounter,commencing in his childhood, proceeding through college and his tra...more
Kristen
The strange thing about life is that though the nature of it must have been apparent to every one for hundreds of years, no one has left any adequate account of it. The streets of London have their map; but our passions are uncharted. What are you going to meet if you turn this corner?

"Holborn straight ahead of you," says the policeman. Ah, but where are you going if instead of brushing past the old man with the white beard, the silver medal, and the cheap violin, you let him go on with his stor
...more
Emily
Except for Flush and The Voyage Out, which I have yet to read at all (!), Jacob's Room is one of Virginia Woolf's titles with which I'm least familiar: this is only my second time through. The first one came shortly after my initial, world-changing discovery of Woolf, and I remembered the novella as being quite minor, a bridge work between her "apprenticeship" novels and the full-blown genius of her mid-career work. I had fallen in love with Mrs. Dalloway's rare but brilliant flashes of true com...more
Lindsay
If you ever woke up one morning and found yourself transformed into a brick or a pebble or something like that, there are paragraphs in this book that would remind you exactly what it is like to be alive. Really. This is one of them:

"It seems then that men and women are equally at fault. It seems that a profound, impartial, and absolutely just opinion of our fellow-creatures is utterly unknown. Either we are men, or we are women. Either we are cold, or we are sentimental. Either we are young, or...more
Hesper
I have to admit that most of the time I was reading this, I was just kind of sighing impatiently and going, "WTF, another POV shift? Get on with it, Virginia." And then the end happened, and all those irritating perspective changes turned out to be a skillfully arranged series of triggers leading, like falling dominoes, to a mostly off-the-page explosion.

And it is righteous!

The novel is really a series of vignettes, connected by several recurring characters. It is one of the strangest character...more
Timmy
This woman blows me away again and again. My head has been tossed about and left stuck to the limb of some leafless tree on Bustleton Avenue. I find a page I love and read it over and over and over and over......and over.....not because I must, not because I don't understand per se, not because I need to clarify, but because it is like a skydiving thrill that I wish to replay. I start reading a section and soon the head becomes light, gets dizzy, finds intense clarity, then reaches a numinous ap...more
Gavin Wright
If this book were written today, it would without doubt be almost universally ignored, perhaps appearing as a cult eBook, struggling to keep above the waves of blogs and social media. Agents would avoid it, a rank unpublishable mess with, significantly, not the faintest trace of a plot, no easily identifiable protagonist and, worse, dozens of random characters (and scenes) popping in and out of the novel like odd fragrances at an open window.

Reading it, one gets the impression that the fragments...more
Jamie
Feb 02, 2011 Jamie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Woolf fans, those who like a challenge
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sarah
This was an early experiment in stream of consciousness. It's a lovely, meditative work, though it doesn't feel quite finished to me. The connections aren't there: the connection to a character, the connective thread between two passages. She rushed abruptly from character to character, scene to scene. There's a theme to it all, a greater point about humanity, but I became exasperated with all the characters, asides, and hanging threads I was meant to tie up for myself. Help a reader out!

The pre...more
Laurie Robinson
Jul 14, 2010 Laurie Robinson added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no
I'm probably too simple to get this, but this was horrible! Started out being an interesting approach to writing, but turned out to be a bunch a nothing. This novel is a bunch of words...a whole novel's worth of words... that end up saying nothing! This ends up being a book that was clearly written by someone with mental illness. There is a vague, very vague storyline if you can see through all the jumbled thoughts of the myriad of characters. There is no smooth transition from one character to...more
Julie
I loved this book. What it does with time is some trippy ass shit. I can maybe understand (if I try really, REALLY hard) why some people wouldn't like Virginia Woolf/be annoyed by her, but man, I'm going to say it: I think she's one of the finest (if not THE finest) writers in the English language. What she does with words, man. No one else comes close. No one else can imitate it.

I loved the impressionistic style of language in this book; the colors, the sounds, the smells, the sights. I wasn't...more
Claire
Ordinarily I wouldn’t hesitate to ebulliently slap a five-star rating on this novel. But since it is Virginia Woolf, I’m bound to hold her to the standards she has established for herself in her more canonical works. While Jacob’s Room is painstakingly observed, creatively structured and beautifully sad, it lacks the focus of her later novels. As delightful as it is to hear Woolf’s take on such diverse aspects of English society as letter-writing, lunches with matrons and Continental tourism, th...more
Lauren
The book is so extraordinary, I like it more every time I read it. The novel is so filled with voices, especially women's voices, often unheard by anyone, like the letter from Jacob's mother that waits outside his door.

Who are we when others define us? What is the shape of our life? Add the waste of a generation slaughtered in the war.

Sigh. So satisfying.
Laura
Free download available at eBooks@Adelaide.

Opening lines:
“So of course,” wrote Betty Flanders, pressing her heels rather deeper in the sand, “there was nothing for it but to leave.”
Dave
A great picture (mostly) of a boy in late adolescence/early adulthood, and everything around him. Not as well put together or as focused as To the Lighthouse,, and much sadder, with WWI hanging over it. There is a distance from the story and characters that I don't feel in Lighthouse. Woolf seems to step in at times to say the things the story isn't quite getting to. Those are among the best parts, though I love the crab in the bucket, the Shakespeare in the water, Jacob trying to talk about Gre...more
Simon
More an aesthetic exercise than a book, this thing meanders all over the place without really going anywhere. There were passages where I felt like my ankle was shackled to a large boulder, and I was trying desperately to move.
That's a little dramatic, but this modernist novel (a contemporary of Ulysses and The Wasteland, according to the introduction) has a main character (Jacob) who is entirely defined by the desperate women that surround him: their impressions of, lust, worry, and care for J...more
Nicola Mansfield
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 ra...more
Vlad
I had absolutely no idea what I was reading the first round... or the second... or the third. This is one of the books where I was around half way through, got completely lost in it, mumbled "aw crap", then started from the beginning. Thrice. And yet, I find it an amazing book.

Upon researching on it, this is apparently one of Virginia Woolf's more experimental items (and oh, the pain indeed made me feel it). The voice was odd, the pacing was off and at some points, I wasn't even sure if the stor...more
Kevin
For as often as the phrase "it reads like poetry" gets thrown around, it is certainly true for this modernist masterpiece, Jacob's Room. There are passages that demand immediate rereading—so many of them do. While it proves slower reading than most of Woolf's other novels because of its experimental style, it is well worth the effort. Reading the letters contained in the back of the NCE, I came across a section where Woolf expressed the desire that she write something fluid and like Joyce, but m...more
Clarissa Draper
By all standards, Virginia Woolf is a HORRIBLE writer. But, oh how I wish I wrote like her. I've said this before when reading Woolf, read aloud. It's like butter on the tongue.

I don't think new writers could write like Woolf and get picked up by a publisher, but someday, I'm going to write in the style of Woolf and gosh darn-it, you'll love it! Don't read this book if you're looking for good plot development or any structure, read this book because you should. Don't expect - feel. Like a cup of...more
Kristin
This is the first Woolf book that I find myself thinking was merely alright. The idea is very interesting, but the execution was a bit awkward. This novel is extremely satirical and sociopolitical. Both of these things somewhat impede your enjoyment of Woolf's prose (which is always lyrical, transcendent, concise and yet complex all at once) and the ultimate message of the story. Hung up on parody, the narrative becomes bogged down in attacking more traditional coming-of-age stories and Victoria...more
Dawn
Time is issued to spinster ladies of wealth in long white ribbons. These they wind round and round, round and round, assisted by five female servants, a butler, a fine Mexican parrot, regular meals, Mudie's library, and friends dropping in.


What a difficult book to read even tho it is really written. Even tho there are sniffing salts and flickerings of death and instrumental gaggles. The geese here are not there, mumbling and erupting in their turn, a little churlish actually. Since this is early...more
Jessica
so much absence, the degree to which woolf empties the characters of their volition, beyond that even the rain & stone, everything placed, decided upon, how could she help it. "this is life." we are placed upon the ladder & climb, we cling to the rope or we die, etc. largely the eyes empty as wounds in flesh, but well-intentioned surely, so perhaps not the eyes themselves at fault - the world a wound in the flesh. the narrative a place of quiet rupture as all is laid smotheringly down.

**...more
Elena
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rita
My gosh, Virginia Woolf does not give me an easy read!
It goes too far to say that I had to FORCE myself to keep reading the book, but it was certainly not easy for me to follow the story [if there was one:].
I have a simplistic mind, and I suspect Woolf's way of giving the reader one impression after another, without any discernible plot or story line, pretty much goes over my head. It most certainly leaves LOTS of room for the reader's imagination!

That being said, there is no question that Wool...more
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Moments of Readin...: * [General] Jacob's Room 2 16 Jul 19, 2013 09:09AM  
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(Adeline) Virginia Woolf was an English novelist and essayist regarded as one of the foremost modernist literary figures of the twentieth century.

During the interwar period, Woolf was a significant figure in London literary society and a member of the Bloomsbury Group. Her most famous works include the novels Mrs Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927), and Orlando (1928), and the book-length es...more
More about Virginia Woolf...
Mrs. Dalloway To the Lighthouse A Room of One's Own Orlando The Waves

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