Enjoy this title right now, plus millions more, with a free trial

Free for 30 days, then $9.99/month. Cancel anytime.

Jacob's Room

Jacob's Room

Read preview

Jacob's Room

ratings:
3/5 (280 ratings)
Length:
217 pages
3 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Jun 24, 2015
ISBN:
9786059285247
Format:
Book

Description

Slowly welling from the point of her gold nib, pale blue ink dissolved the full stop; for there her pen stuck; her eyes fixed, and tears slowly filled them. The entire bay quivered; the lighthouse wobbled; and she had the illusion that the mast of Mr. Connor's little yacht was bending like a wax candle in the sun.


She winked quickly. Accidents were awful things. She winked again. The mast was straight; the waves were regular; the lighthouse was upright; but the blot had spread.
"… nothing for it but to leave," she read.
"Well, if Jacob doesn't want to play" (the shadow of Archer, her eldest son, fell across the notepaper and looked blue on the sand, and she felt chilly—it was the third of September already), "if Jacob doesn't want to play"—what a horrid blot! It must be getting late.


"Over there—by the rock," Steele muttered, with his brush between his teeth, squeezing out raw sienna, and keeping his eyes fixed on Betty Flanders's back.


"Ja—cob! Ja—cob!" shouted Archer, lagging on after a second.


The voice had an extraordinary sadness. Pure from all body, pure from all passion, going out into the world, soli-tary, unanswered, breaking against rocks—so it sounded.
Steele frowned; but was pleased by the effect of the black—it was just THAT note which brought the rest to-gether. "Ah, one may learn to paint at fifty! There's Ti-tian…" and so, having found the right tint, up he looked and saw to his horror a cloud over the bay.

Publisher:
Released:
Jun 24, 2015
ISBN:
9786059285247
Format:
Book

About the author

Virginia Woolf was an English novelist, essayist, short story writer, publisher, critic and member of the Bloomsbury group, as well as being regarded as both a hugely significant modernist and feminist figure. Her most famous works include Mrs Dalloway, To the Lighthouse and A Room of One’s Own.


Related to Jacob's Room

Read More From Virginia Woolf

Related Books

Related Articles


Reviews

What people think about Jacob's Room

3.0
280 ratings / 12 Reviews
What did you think?
Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Reader reviews

  • (5/5)
    I read this one in college, but that was over 20 years ago so I didn't retain much beyond a generally positive feeling. Reading it now in the context of my very serious Virginia Woolf bookclub (reading everything she published in chronological order) really highlights how Woolf expands into herself with this novel. It has some of the Britishness and relationship stuff of Night and Day, the experimentation of Kew Gardens, the travelogue nature of the Voyage Out, and the playfulness with authorial perspective that weaves in and out of Monday or Tuesday. Jacob is an unknowable cipher, even though we stick with him till the end. But, in trying to know him, we end up knowing a lot about everything else. Which is kind of the way life works. Which is why I love Virginia Woolf.
  • (4/5)
    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.
  • (3/5)
    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.
  • (3/5)
    I suspect that I chose the wrong Virginia Woolf book for my first read. Jacob’s Room was beautifully written, full of descriptive passages, original in both outlook and style but for most of the book I had not clue as to what was happening. The author after giving us glimpses and hints, leaves it up to her reader to put the pieces together. The words “stream of consciousness” come to mind and I admit I was put off by the disjointedness and lack of plot.Jacob’s Room appears to be the life story of a young man and it unfolds in a series of scenes from his childhood, his time at Cambridge, his love affairs, his travels and on to his apparent death in World War I. The author’s intention in showing fragments of his life and leaving the whole picture elusive and incomplete is perhaps her way of making Jacob a symbol for an entire generation. This was a poetic, layered, confusing and intriguing read. For much of the book I felt the author was immersed in her own nostalgia and sadness, but I was never totally drawn in and didn’t feel any sense of connection to the story. I fully intend to read more of Virginia Woolf’s writing and perhaps I can learn to appreciate an author who makes her readers work to understand the whys and wherefores of her writing.
  • (5/5)
    Jacob's Room was an experimental book for Woolf in 1922 but it certainly stands the test of time for good literature, and is generally an easy read. I lost my way once or twice about who was speaking or how much time has passed but not as much as I thought I might and quickly picked up the thread again. The story follows a young man through his life in the early part of the twentieth century leading up to the first World War. I enjoyed it and though the ending seemed abrupt, I believe that was the point about life in general. I can certainly recommend it . I have enjoyed Woolf's non fiction, essays, and A Room of One's Own tremendously but never got around to her fiction, except for Orlando, which is very interesting. I will be reading more of Woolf's fiction very soon.
  • (2/5)
    Seemed boring to me; maybe it was just a bad chosen moment to read it. Or maybe... I just don't really like VW's books focusing on men ?!Worth reading again, sometime.
  • (1/5)
    Although I understand that the style is experimental, I found it too rough. The constant leaps from one POV to another is bewildering and much of the information we receive consists of useless filler material. The true bulk of the content lies in the loosely strung together metaphors, some of which appear almost as half-finished thoughts.
  • (4/5)
    This novel, published in 1922, the same year as Joyce's Ulysses and Eliot's The Waste Land, is acknowledged as a landmark Modernist text. Having previously read Woolf’s To the Lighthouse and Mrs Dalloway during my undergraduate years, and having enjoyed those novels, I came to Jacob’s Room with certain expectations. For one, I expected it to be challenging, and challenging it was. But it is also very short (around a 120 pages) and therefore more manageable than Joyce’s magnum opus. It also illustrates some of the problems I have with Modernist fiction in general, and Woolf specifically.More on that later. First, let me expound on the technique of the book. Whereas Woolf’s first two novels were, according to what I have read, fairly straightforward, in this novel, Woolf takes a much more impressionistic approach to novel-writing. Jacob’s Room has barely any plot. Ostensibly being about the life of Jacob Flanders (supposedly based on Woolf's brother, Thoby), the book presents snatches from many different points of view on Jacob, and, sometimes, from Jacob’s point of view. Despite being presented in chronological order, these impressions are disjointed, and it often takes some effort to make sense of what is going on. This creates a collage effect, very different from most novels that one might encounter.I liked Woolf’s attention to detail and her way of turning a phrase. She creates an intense emotional portrait of Jacob, even though he is not really the protagonist of the novel; no-one is. To get an idea of what Woolf is endeavouring to do, here is a short passage from the novel:It is thus that we live, they say, driven by an unseizable force. They say that the novelists never catch it; that it goes hurtling through their nets and leaves them torn to ribbons. This, they say, is what we live by – this unseizable force.Although Woolf displays some scepticism in this extract – all those ‘they say’s – it is still evident throughout the quasi-novel of Jacob’s Room that it is exactly this ‘unseizable force’ that she is trying to grasp. It is the ineffable quality of life that Woolf tries to represent, precisely by going against the supposed realism of the Realist writers, such as Arnold Bennett.Her characterisation is fluid to the point of flowing down the drain, at least at times. That is one problem I had with her writing. Despite beautifully lyrical and elegiac passages, the book sometimes felt insubstantial – ‘flimsy’, maybe. Perhaps this is because of its lack of plot and other anchoring points, such as relatable characters and substantial events. Woolf sacrifices these on purposes, but it sometimes felt like the book was an experiment that either went too far, or did not go far enough. To the Lighthouse and Mrs Dalloway seemed comparably more successful attempts at marrying traditional novelistic techniques to Modernist experiments in narration. Ulysses, which uses similar techniques, also seems more successful, as it goes the whole hog in rejecting Realism. That said, I read Jacob’s Room without any guide, so I might have missed out on some of Woolf’s intentions with the novel.On the whole, an interesting, if flawed, attempt at presenting a life as it is really experienced, and not as it is usually channelised into easily digested fiction.
  • (4/5)
    The first of Virginia Woolf's novels that sought a new way of writing fiction tells the story of a young man who is to be killed on the battlefields of WWI. This edition includes a forward by her nephew Quentin Bell.
  • (3/5)
    I didn't really care for this. Not surprisingly, the writing is good, there were a few lines I especially liked; but the (very loose) story... just not for me. I didn't mind the odd style of telling it, I don't think, though it's hard to say so clearly when you're not very fond of what's being told. But, the kind of vaguely sad, ambling, not much plot... I just didn't care much for it. And for me I think it's less the plotless/ambling aspect than the fact that I'm just really not keen on the kind of, sad look back on life sort of thing. The "feel" (so to speak) of the novel is just not the kind of thing I enjoy. I'd put it in the same kind of class as Age of Innocence or Brideshead Revisited, Crome Yellow perhaps. It's just not my thing. But it was a short quick read, so eh.I am curious to read other Woolf and see what I think of the more hyped titles.
  • (2/5)
    Jacob's Room by Virginia Woolf - I approached it with no trepidation at all, because I read Mrs. Dalloway a number of years ago and really enjoyed it, even with the page-long sentences. With that, and the fact that this is really a novella, I settled in for a quick read. How wrong I was on all counts. I had not thought about the fact that Woolf was a member of the Bloomsbury Group and envelope-pusher in literature until I got about 30 pages into this book and I really had no idea what was going on.My impressions of this impressionistic book: There's Jacob, and he's a kid and he's up on a giant rock by the ocean. I think he's going to fall off. Oh, I guess not. Okay now we're at a dinner party and Jacob's in college. He hates dinner parties. In fact, as we find out from the seemingly endless dinner parties we'll have to attend with him, he's like the Holden Caulfield of the 1920s and really doesn't think much of society. Now he's on a boat with a friend and they're talking endlessly about the Greeks and is this friend in love with him or what? Now we're in Italy and Jacob's on his way to Greece and talking philosophy and he doesn't like French women and oh dear god how many more pages of this are left? Oh good, I'm done.Then I went and read up a bit on the book to see if I missed something grand (it's been known to happen) and the answer is: well, if you like experimental literature and important milestones in postmodernism and books without a real protagonist or any plot to speak of, this book's for you. Otherwise, read Mrs. Dalloway.
  • (5/5)
    How have I missed this before? Could it have been something as trivial as not liking the previous copies I've started, which were scruffy hardbacks? I mean, I've read The years and The waves, for goodness sake!Anyway this is superb. Woolf at her finest. Great descriptions of London and nature and scenery. Hinting at characters, capturing the sense of life as I experience it, puzzling me and then revealing more to satisfy and keep me alert. I want to re-read it at once - but of course I won't as there is too much else waiting to be read. But I will come back to this. The personal associations (connections with her brother Thoby), her femininism, her revelations of what life was like at that time are all fascinating.