The novel centres ambiguously around the life story of the protagonist, Jacob Flanders, and is presented almost entirely through the impressions other characters have of him. Motifs of emptiness and absence haunt the novel and establish its elegiac feel. Jacob is described to us, but in such indirect terms that it would seem better to view him as an amalgam of the different perceptions of the characters and narrator. He does not exist as a concrete reality, but rather as a collection of memories and sensations.
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