Jacob's Room (1922)
In paperback, by Virginia Woolf
Jacob's Room is the third novel by Virginia Woolf, first published on 26 October 1922. The novel centres, in a very ambiguous way, around the life story of the protagonist Jacob Flanders and is presented almost entirely through the impressions other characters have of Jacob. Thus, although it could be said that the book is primarily a character study and has little in the way of plot or background, the narrative is constructed with a void in place of the central character if, indeed, the novel can be said to have a 'protagonist' in conventional terms. Motifs of emptiness and absence haunt the novel and establish its elegiac feel. Jacob is described to us, but in such indirect terms that it would seem better to view him as an amalgam of the different perceptions of the characters and narrator. He does not exist as a concrete reality, but rather as a collection of memories and sensations. Plot summary Set in pre-war England, the novel begins in Jacob's childhood and follows him through college at Cambridge and into adulthood. The story is told mainly through the perspectives of the women in Jacob's life, including the repressed upper-middle-class Clara Durrant and the uninhibited young art student Florinda, with whom he has an affair. His time in London forms a large part of the story, though towards the end of the novel he travels to Italy and then Greece........... Adeline Virginia Woolf ( 25 January 1882 - 28 March 1941) was an English writer, who is considered one of the most important modernist 20th-century authors and a pioneer in the use of stream of consciousness as a narrative device. Virginia Stephen was born into an affluent household in South Kensington, London. She was the seventh child in a blended family of eight. Her mother, Julia Stephen, celebrated as a Pre-Raphaelite artist's model, had three children from her first marriage, her father Leslie Stephen, a notable man of letters, had one previous daughter, and four children were born in her parents' second marriage, of whom the most well known was the modernist painter Vanessa Stephen (later Vanessa Bell). While the boys in the family were educated at university, the girls were home-schooled in English classics and Victorian literature. An important influence in Virginia's early life was the summer home the family used in St Ives, Cornwall, where she first saw the Godrevy Lighthouse, which was to become iconic in her novel To the Lighthouse (1927). Virginia's childhood came to an abrupt end in 1895 with the death of her mother and her first mental breakdown. This was soon followed by the death of her stepsister and surrogate mother, Stella Duckworth, two years later. The Stephen sisters were then able to attend the Ladies' Department of King's College, where they studied classics and history (1897-1901) and came into contact with early reformers of women's higher education and the women's rights movement. Other important influences were their Cambridge-educated brothers and unfettered access to their father's vast library. Virginia's father encouraged her to become a writer and she began writing professionally in 1900. Their father's death in 1905 was a major turning point in their lives and the cause of another breakdown, following which the Stephens moved from Kensington to the more bohemian Bloomsbury, where they adopted a free-spirited lifestyle. It was there, that in conjunction with their brothers' intellectual friends, they formed the artistic and literary Bloomsbury Group. With Vanessa's marriage in 1907, Virginia became more independent, marrying Leonard Woolf in 1912. With Leonard she founded the Hogarth Press in 1917, which published much of her work. In 1910, Virginia started to feel the need to have a retreat away from London, in Sussex, and following the destruction of their London home during the war, in 1940, the Woolfs moved there permanently.