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on 4 June 2013
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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on 28 February 2002
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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on 29 March 2014
Woolf at her best. Engaging and a mystery. The characters become endearing yet untouchable in a true exploration of self.
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on 4 February 2016
Interesting window on a writer.
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on 21 May 2017
VW can make words fly and soar like a great jazz sazophonist can give notes their own life. I'm probably not the first person to say this, but I wonder if she was a jazz writer rather than a very structured writer like Dickens or Hardy, both of which she probably read as a girl. All that said, am I the only reader to find the end of the book a bit of a cop-out? I'm not saying that she could not be bothered to fashion a better ending, more that perhaps her mental health issues were mounting again, or perhaps that she just did not know how to give the tale a better ending, given the place her word-play had lead her to.
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on 23 February 2014
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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on 17 January 2013
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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on 2 October 2011
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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on 19 August 2016
I struggled with Virginia Woolf's most famous novels (Mrs Dalloway and To The Lighthouse) but adored this, for sentences like this one, describing a fire:
'The flames were struggling through the wood and roaring up when, goodness knows where from, pails flung water in beautiful hollow shapes, as of polished tortoiseshell; flung again and again: until the hiss was like a swarm of bees; and all the faces went out.'
The novel becomes quite disjointed towards the end, the best stuff is in the middle, describing the contradictions and sensations of a certain milieu of London life - admittedly a privileged one.
The viewpoint can be like the most sensitive camera, darting through windows and houses, from one conversation to another, recording all of life as it goes past. Don't try to analyse - just enjoy the vibrant and free prose and unique descriptions.
This is the book to read when you're fed up of reading.
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on 20 January 2013
I absolutely love this novel, it's magical. Unfortunately the kindle edition being sold here is missing inset quotes/songs/poems from the characters so sometimes you might get

"""
"Ah," sighed Clara, who stood beside Jacob, half-way through.

sang Elsbeth Siddons.
"""
(Chapter 7, Loc 1037)

without ever discovering what she sang. It's a little sad, but not unforgivable (especially considering it's a free edition). I would use it to discover whether you like it and then investigate to see if any of the paid-for-but-cheap editions for Kindle are actually complete.
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