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Jacob's Room (Annotated)

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  6,732 Ratings  ·  507 Reviews
Woolf's first distinctly modernist novel follows an aloof yet beloved young man from his childhood through his student days to his too-early death during World War I.
Annotated and with an introduction by Vara Neverow
Paperback, 330 pages
Published June 23rd 2008 by Mariner Books (first published 1922)
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Fragmentary impressions while reading Jacob’s Room. Life keeps interfering.

I travelled the underground while reading The Voyage Out, and it made impressions on others. Incomprehensible, fragmentary impressions on them, unforgettable ones on me.

Immediately, I made the decision to read Jacob’s Room, for I wanted more Woolfian impressions, and I brought it to the underground as well. Some patterns are repeated unconsciously, being part of everyday routines we just follow, without seeing or thinki
Oct 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Pursuers of beauty in absence
Shelves: read-in-2014
“Either we are men, or we are women. Either we are cold, or we are sentimental. Either we are young, or growing old. In any case life is but a procession of shadows, and God knows why it is that we embrace them so eagerly, and see them depart with such anguish, being shadows.”

And a shadow of a life, an existential void is what the reader perceives of Jacob Flanders, a young man whose identity remains as elusive as an abstract painting. Set in pre-First World War England and anticipating the brut
I finished this book some weeks ago but held off from reviewing it until now because the temptation (which I have since resisted) to skip words altogether and make this an entirely illustrated review was very strong: all of the impressions I had were visual, resembling paintings or stills from a movie. There was no particular action that stood out in my mind, just a series of scenes: interiors, landscapes, seascapes, all impressionistic yet very vivid at the same time, the characters themselves ...more

Jacob's Room is a life seen from the outside. Incomplete and blurred image of the young man. We can see 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 carriage. They
Mar 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bloomsbury
Woolf’s first experimental novel and as with all of Woolf’s work there are acres of print analysing it (some of which I have read). The Jacob of the title is Jacob Flanders and we follow his life from the start to his death in the First World War. We follow through others; the women in his life and we follow at something of a tangent. As one critic has pointed out; the first room Jacob has is the womb and we follow him to his last room; the tomb. The brief scenes just pick out small points about ...more
Apr 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook

Having just concluded that I'm glad I didn't read Steinbeck's novels in chronological order, I now rather wish I'd started at the beginning with Woolf's novels. On the other hand, it's interesting to look back to the beginnings of Woolf's experimental writing after reading Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse and The Waves.

Whereas listening to the audiobook of The Waves reminded me of listening to a cantata or an oratorio, listening to this novel (beautifully narrated by Juliet Stevenson) was more
Oct 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2015
No doubt we should be, on the whole, much worse off than we are without our astonishing gift for illusion.

I’m glad I don’t have to try and explain what Jacob’s Room is about because there’s no real plot; rather, it’s a wonderfully poetic and peculiar glimpse of small things happening, people thinking, waves crashing, life cascading by. There’s a layered and voyeuristic darkness throughout. Life is happening to Jacob in remembered vignettes and half-memories, and we catch glimpses of Jacob but no
This is Virginia Woolf’s third novel. It was published in 1922. It is considered her most experimental. It is definitely my favorite!

What Woolf was trying to do, and which I think she marvelously succeeds with, is to capture how it feels to experience life. There is less of a focus on what a person does, more on how we internally perceive and react to everyday events. She seems to me to be attempting to capture the inner life of individuals, and not just one individual but many. We are delivered
Ashley 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
May 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was unwilling to read this book, which had been on my shelf for a long time, had risen to the top of the pile, been bypassed many times by more 'urgent' selections and finally became too accusing in its familiarity for me to put off any longer. Why the antipathy? I opened it a few times, leafed through the introduction, and reached for something contemporary instead, something that felt, maybe, more 'relevant'.

To continue the rambling personal preamble (just skip to the next paragraph, dear re
Nick Wellings
Aug 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Published in 1922, this was Woolf's third novel, but the first of her Modernists style character narratives, a style combined with stream of consciousness that she would perfect by the time she wrote The Waves in 1931. Set in early 20th century England, Jacob's Room is simply the story of a young mans life, Jacob Flanderrs, as told in fleeting recollections by his mother and his closet friends. Thus our view of Jacob is never quite complete, only hazy and mysterious, like an apparition. Even at ...more
Inderjit Sanghera
A kind of jig-saw puzzle where the reader gradually pieces together the character of Jacob as seen through the eyes of others; diffident day-dreamer, asinine and aloof, sensitive, brilliant and beautiful, Virginia Woolf is attempting to convey the various personalities we represent to different people at different time-even the first-person accounts from the point of view of Jacob are shrouded in ambiguity. Woof's dispensation of standard representations of character present a break from literar ...more
Feb 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modernisms, here, y2015
if the five stars are generous, it is only because of the fact that even when Woolf writes a messy and somewhat unformed book like this, she's still so much better than everyone else.
Justin Evans
Dec 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Virginia Woolf writes better than other people.

"We start transparent, and then the cloud thickens. All history backs our pane of glass. To escape is vain."

"The Scilly Isles now appeared as if directly pointed at by a golden finger issuing from a cloud; and everybody knows how portentous that sight is, and how these broad rays, whether they light upon the Scilly Isles or upon the tombs of crusaders in cathedrals, always shake the very foundations of scepticism and lead to jokes about God."

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
I like Woolf more and more as I get older; she is the perfect antidote to male sentences.
Eldonfoil TH*E Whatever Champion
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
H.A. Leuschel
Mar 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'No one sees anyone as he is.' This sentence could in my view sum up this novel. At times breathtaking, at others meandering as if walking slowly on a country lane or strolling down a street looking at the sights and sounds, this is a highly unusual novel. But then again Virginia Woolf was a very unusual, sensitive and extremely inventive writer. In this novel, the reader sees Jacob's life as if from a distance, and when we think that we are finally getting closer to the main character, his acti ...more
Durrant quoted Aeschylus--Jacob Sophocles. It is true that no Greek could have understood or professor refrained from pointing out--Never mind; what is Greek for if not to be shouted on Haverstock Hill in the dawn? Moreover, Durrant never listened to Sophocles, nor Jacob to Aeschylus. They were boastful, triumphant; it seemed to both that they had read every book in the world; known every sin, passion, and joy. Civilizations stood round them like flowers ready for picking. Ages lapped at their f
Fix your eyes upon the lay's skirt; the grey one will do—above the pink silk stockings. It changes; drapes her ankles—the nineties; then it amplifies—the seventies; now it's burnished red and stretched above a crinoline—the sixties; a tiny black foot wearing a white cotton stocking peeps out. Still sitting there? Yes—she's still on the pier. The silk now is sprigged with roses, but somehow one no longer sees so clearly. There's no pier beneath us. The heavy chariot may swing along the turn
May 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, fiction
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
Jun 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 23, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Viv JM
Jacob’s Room was Virginia Woolf’s third novel and the first in her trademark “stream of consciousness” style. It follows the life of Jacob from birth to adulthood, but only through the observation of others. We never get to know Jacob’s point of view and he seems a slightly mysterious character, on the periphery of the reader’s vision. Although this is clearly deliberate and illustrates the point that we never really know the whole of any other person, I found it difficult to really connect to t ...more
Jan 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think I mentioned before that I'm reading a lot from libirvox. I love this book but I find it hard to understand why or at least how to put my liking into words. As I listened I found myself lulled by the beauty of the way Woolf writes, letting the sound of the words wash over me so that from time to time I'd lose the plot, to the extent there is a plot in this book. I'd go back and listen to the same passages only to get lost in the prose again. After a while I stopped fighting and just let t ...more
Laurie Robinson
Jul 10, 2010 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
Ana Rînceanu
The novel recreates Jacob's childhood, studenthood and entry into adulthood through his perspective and those, for the most part, of the women in his life. It's like a scrapbook of memories and sensations of fleeting major life events and the places they take place in. The prose is wonderful and very lethargic.
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
Aug 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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Moments of Readin...: * [General] Jacob's Room 2 40 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
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“Melancholy were the sounds on a winter's night.” 737 likes
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