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Virginia Woolf: Jacob’s Room
This may be said to be Woolf’s first truly experimental novel. It was also the first to be published by press she set up with her husband, the Hogarth Press. It tells the story of Jacob Flanders, based on Woolf’s brother Thoby. In this story Woolf, as she will do in her later novels, gives an impressionistic account of Jacob and his mother, rather than telling a straightforward plot. Using stream of consciousness, descriptions of landscape and the thoughts and feelings of the main characters, we follow Jacob from a young child in Cornwall, via Cambridge and travels in Europe to his death in World War I, concluding with a final chapter when his friends come back to his room to dispose of his possessions. All that is left of him is a pair of old shoes, a bill for a hunting crop and other worthless possessions. When first released, this novel was praised by the likes of T S Eliot but attacked by many others. In retrospect, we can see it as a valiant if not wholly successful start on a journey that will lead to some of the finest twentieth century English novels.
First published in 1922 by Hogarth Press