Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Narrator of 'Jacob's Room' says...

'It seems then that men and women are equally at fault. It seems that a profound, impartial, and absolutely just opinion of our fellow-creatures is utterly unknown. Either we are men, or we are women. Either we are cold, or we are sentimental. Either we are young, or growing old. In any case life is but a procession of shadows, and God knows why it is that we embrace them so eagerly, and see them depart with such anguish, being shadows. And why, if this and much than this is true, why are we yet surprised in the window corner by a sudden vision that the young man in the chair is of all things in the world the most real, the most solid, the best known to us - why indeed? For the moment after we know nothing about him. Such is the manner of our seeing. Such the conditions of our love.'

- The Narrator (Jacob's Room, Virgina Woolf, 1922)

Note: I'm not an official Virginia Woolf fan, and you won't see too much of her writing posted here. However, I studied Jacob's Room in a literature class back in university and this novel has always impressed me as one of the truest 'character studies' I've ever read. Without a linear (or coherant) plot, Jacob's Room is a collection of scenes, conversations, and memories that all add up to a character named Jacob, who we never really get a clear picture of, only distant impressions. It's a challenging read, especially for those who need a clean beginning-middle-end structure, but if you're into experimental structuring and complex character studies, I'd recommend this read.

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