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Jacob's Room (Norton Critical Editions) Paperback – 8 Jan 2007


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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (8 Jan. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039392632X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393926323
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 0.2 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 614,701 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Virginia Woolf is now recognized as a major twentieth-century author, a great novelist and essayist and a key figure in literary history as a feminist and a modernist. Born in 1882, she was the daughter of the editor and critic Leslie Stephen, and suffered a traumatic adolescence after the deaths of her mother, in 1895, and her step-sister Stella, in 1897, leaving her subject to breakdowns for the rest of her life. Her father died in 1904 and two years later her favourite brother Thoby died suddenly of typhoid.

With her sister, the painter Vanessa Bell, she was drawn into the company of writers and artists such as Lytton Strachey and Roger Fry, later known as the Bloomsbury Group. Among them she met Leonard Woolf, whom she married in 1912, and together they founded the Hogarth Press in 1917, which was to publish the work of T. S. Eliot, E. M. Forster and Katherine Mansfield as well as the earliest translations of Freud. Woolf lived an energetic life among friends and family, reviewing and writing, and dividing her time between London and the Sussex Downs. In 1941, fearing another attack of mental illness, she drowned herself.

Her first novel, The Voyage Out, appeared in 1915, and she then worked through the transitional Night and Day (1919) to the highly experimental and impressionistic Jacob's Room (1922). From then on her fiction became a series of brilliant and extraordinarily varied experiments, each one searching for a fresh way of presenting the relationship between individual lives and the forces of society and history. She was particularly concerned with women's experience, not only in her novels but also in her essays and her two books of feminist polemic, A Room of One's Own (1929) and Three Guineas (1938).

Her major novels include Mrs Dalloway (1925), the historical fantasy Orlando (1928), written for Vita Sackville-West, the extraordinarily poetic vision of The Waves (1931), the family saga of The Years (1937), and Between the Acts (1941). All these are published by Penguin, as are her Diaries, Volumes I-V, and selections from her essays and short stories.


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Review

"Virginia Woolf stands as the chief figure of modernism in England and must be included with Joyce and Proust in the realisation of experimental achievements that have completely broken with tradition" (New York Times) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

An experimental novel about a young man who yearns for something greater than his everyday life holds. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By nickmathison@hotmail.com on 28 Feb. 2002
Format: Paperback
A typically wonderful read from the great Virginia Woolf. While Jacob is on the one hand the centre of this book, he is also the enigma which the reader never quite finds. We hear many others talking of Jacob, but we catch only fleeting glimpses of Jacob himself, making this book a strange, at times disorientating read. This however, is clearly Woolf's intention, as she plays with notions of character, authorial omniscience, and coherent plotting. A great example of classic modernist fiction from one of Britain's most celebrated authors. If you are prepared for a challenging read, then buy this book- but prepare for your expectations of what constitutes a novel to be put under the spotlight.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By James Blades on 23 Feb. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is an excellent novel and leaves you gasping with admiration at Ms Woolf's wonderful prose. However, compared to her best work - Mrs Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, The Waves - it reads more like an experiment in prose. If you haven't yet read any Virginia Woolf, start with To the Lighthouse or Mrs Dalloway. Don't expect racy page turners but just wonderful language that reads like exquisite music. In my opinion, though, I think her diaries are her best work and well worth seeking out.
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Format: Paperback
This excerpt from a letter sent by Woolf explaining something of her raison d'etre for writing Jacob's Room gives some context for the exceptionally fragmented and sometimes incoherent effect of her writing:
"The human soul, it seems to me, orientates itself afresh every now and then. It is doing so now. No one can see it whole, therefore. The best of us catch a glimpse of a nose, a shoulder, something turning away, always in movement. Still, it seems better to me to catch this glimpse, than to sit down with Hugh Walpole, Wells, etc. etc. and make large oil paintings of fabulous fleshy monsters complete from top to toe."

Thereby coming to one of the first examples of Virginia Woolf's oevre we see the something of the point of what she was about as a writer. Rejecting the "fabulous fleshy monsters" was part of an attempt to record a more realistic vision of consciousness, with all of its uncertainties, its fragmentation, even, it seems to the point of inconsequentiality. But who could say it was not a wholehearted attempt to get closer than usual to human experience. Yes it rejects the, to her, banal conventionalities of the novel - a breathtaking rejection that elects to do without the tyrannies of plot, of characterisation, even of story. It keeps theme only in the sense of its circle of attention upon one person, eventually, after the childhood sequence, upon Jacob. But Jacob only as he might be glimpsed, seen at a dinner party, out with his art-school girlfriend Florinda, the bedroom door opened, then closed on us. Woolf is a prude, perhaps understandably, due to the conventions of the time as well as her own experience of sexual abuse at the age of 13.

It is an extraordinary leap of faith for any writer to take and though it doesn't catch Woolf at the height of her powers (my own favourite is 'Mrs Dalloway' or possibly 'To The Lighthouse'), it is a step along the Modernist road she was determined that her writing must travel.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By ArtsEater on 2 Oct. 2011
Format: Paperback
I'm in a Woolf phase right now and came to this book after reading her later works: 'Mrs Dalloway', 'To the Lighthouse', 'Orlando' as well her non-fiction piece 'A Room of One's Own'. Although lacking the brilliance of these later works, 'Jacob's Room' is well worth a read if only to see Woolf starting out on the process of trying to dismantle the idea that novel = linear narrative, fully rounded characterisation, and an omniscient author.

I think 'Jacob's Room' is a very 'impressionistic' novel in that we get no concrete sense of who the main character, Jacob Flanders, is. As another reviewer has said, we only catch glimpses of him. There is no god-like omniscient author forever telling you what the character thinks or feels. (To me this reflects the increasingly godless modern world we live in.) Also, the dialogue in the novel is often disjointed and I think this reflects the atomised modern world we live in. I assume that by writing dialogue which lacks linearity and fluidity Woolf more truthfully reflects human to human interaction: it's often full of non-sequitors, fails to flow easily, is interrupted etc.

If you're prepared for a challenging read and want to see how Woolf got started on the process of challenging the then accepted norms of fiction wfiting - then buy this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 29 Mar. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Woolf at her best. Engaging and a mystery. The characters become endearing yet untouchable in a true exploration of self.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Reading this novel feels like strolling past a series of Impressionist canvasses, some are more sketchy and vague than others, are returned to from time to time, a small detail added here and there. Musings, reveries and questions without answers, neither plot nor story line invite the reader to fill in the unfinished sketches. A relaxing read, enjoyable because of the beautiful language.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Jacob's Room is VW's third novel (1922) and marks her departure from naturalism to modernism. A slim volume but a full one.
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By Amazon Customer on 12 May 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book in my honest opinion was just ok it was nothing special it i thought it would have been better.
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