Jacob's Room

WOOLF, Virginia. Jacob's Room.

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Rebecca West's Copy.

WOOLF, Virginia. Jacob's Room. Richmond: Hogarth Press, 1922.

8vo., original yellow cloth with paper spine label. A little sunning to spine, a little foxing to first and last few leaves, small abrasion to front free endpaper, generally a very good copy preserved in cloth chemise and slipcase.
First edition. One of forty copies issued for "A" subscribers with a printed slip signed by the author tipped onto the front free endpaper. "A" subscribers had paid the Hogarth Press upfront to receive copies of all publications, while "B" subscribers received only notification of new publications. Rebecca West's copy, with her name written in Virginia Woolf's hand.
Jacob, the key figure in the work, is described through a series of different perceptions throughout his life; his childhood in Cornwall through to his student days at Cambridge, to Europe on the brink of War. Jacob's Room was Woolf's third novel, but is also first in which she made this radical and decisive shift away from a conventional prose narrative. Instead, the main character is described through his mother's letters, his friend's conversations, and the thoughts of the women who meet him. The novel paved the way for Woolf's two most sucessful noveles, Mrs Dalloway and To the Lighthouse A contemporary Guardian reviewer wrote in November 1922 "Perhaps it is partly by the aid of the novelists that we have come to imagine our lives as sequences, but Mrs Woolf won't have that at all. She provides us with chunks of what seems arbitrary and is certainly not explicit, and leaves us to sort them…Mrs Woolf has no turn for the plausible, and scorns the canny.”
Rebecca West was famously to review Jacob's Room in "The New Statesman" (2 November 1922), writing of the author (whom she had yet to meet) that: " . . . [she] has again provided us with a demonstration that she is at once a negligible novelist and a supremely important writer." Woolf would not have been too upset; while she loved West's journalism, she likened her novel The Return of the Soldier to an "over-stuffed sausage". West and Woolf held a wary mutual regard throughout their lives and frequently reviewed each other's work, although they were never close friends. It is a measure of West's regard for Woolf that she was one of the very few non-Bloomsbury "A" subscribers.
A fascinating association.

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