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Published in 1922, the first of Woolf’s novels to come out of Hogarth Press, Jacob’s Room, also represents her first truly modernist work. If there is a plot to speak of, it is more a story arc, tracing the life of Jacob Flanders from his first appearance trying to climb a rock on a Cornish Beach, to his last reference, a report of his death during the war. Though Woolf does choose at times to give Jacob his own point of view – starting on the beach with a change of tense – for the most part he is dealt with second or third hand, through the views and impressions of other characters.
That the novel represents two firsts – for Hogarth and for Woolf’s Modernism – is no surprise; it’s unlikely that any of the major publishing houses would have gone with such an experimental shift from her previous two novels. The novel was, in the opinion of T.S. Eliot –more than a mere literary acquaintance – without compromise, by which he meant that it didn’t seek to conform to the expectations of the commercial market.