This impressionistic novel by Virginia Woolf marks the author’s first move toward the experimentation for which she would later become recognized. Through a montage of passing images, conversations, and stream-of-consciousness monologues, it tells the story of Jacob Flanders, an idealistic and sensitive young man attempting to reconcile his love of classical culture with the chaotic reality of contemporary society. As Jacob grows from childhood into adulthood, we follow his experiences in college and in travels, in love and in war, through the perspectives and impressions of the various people in his life.
Jacob’s Room established Virginia Woolf's reputation as a highly poetic and symbolic writer who places emphasis not on plot or action but on the psychological realm of her characters. Hailed by friends such as T. S. Eliot, the book represents a turning point in the history of the English novel. Wrote E. M. Forster, “The impossible has occurred…A new type of fiction has swum into view.”