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Flush

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This story of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s cocker spaniel, Flush, enchants right from the opening pages. Although Flush has adventures of his own with bullying dogs, horrid maids, and robbers, he also provides the reader with a glimpse into Browning’s life. Introduction by Trekkie Ritchie.

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This story of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s cocker spaniel, Flush, enchants right from the opening pages. Although Flush has adventures of his own with bullying dogs, horrid maids, and robbers, he also provides the reader with a glimpse into Browning’s life. Introduction by Trekkie Ritchie.

30 review for Flush

  1. 5 out of 5

    Dolors

    I never thought I would be so absorbed with the biography…of a dog! But what was I thinking? Woolf’s writing works its magic with no exception, of course. Are you in the mood for the ideal dose of ironic, playful humor? Do you crave for those intricately woven phrases that sing the English language with exquisite intonation? Or for a literary game of original subtlety? “Flush” is the described above plus a surrogate biography of the poetess Elizabeth Barrett-Browning and a jocular satire on the s I never thought I would be so absorbed with the biography…of a dog! But what was I thinking? Woolf’s writing works its magic with no exception, of course. Are you in the mood for the ideal dose of ironic, playful humor? Do you crave for those intricately woven phrases that sing the English language with exquisite intonation? Or for a literary game of original subtlety? “Flush” is the described above plus a surrogate biography of the poetess Elizabeth Barrett-Browning and a jocular satire on the social conventions and the assumption of purity that is generally attached to the British snobbery aristocracy. It’s through the eyes, or maybe mostly through the snout of Elizabeth’s dog that we follow her life as a young woman confined first by a mysterious illness at her father’s house in Wimpole Street and the developing epistolary romance with Robert Browning prior to their elopement to Florence. This novella is partly a reconstruction of the life of the Brownings through real documents, basically the poems and letters of Elizabeth, and partly a divertimento that brings the world alive with delightful descriptive passages vibrant with the smells, noises, flavors and fragmentary sights that constitute the perceptions of this special dog. Flush absorbs the mood of his mistress and vice versa, establishing a chord of communication that transcends language, the laws of nature and Victorian rationality. Flush rises above the concept of the spoiled pet dog and loyal companion. He becomes the recipient of Elizabeth’s states of mind and the mysterious accord between these opposed beings, woman and animal, which culminates, with Shakespearean satire galore, into a rarefied but incredibly honest account of the poetess’ life, internalized and intensified by his doggish observations. It’s impossible to read “Flush” and not imagine Virginia’s own dog laying drowsily under the shade of a pear tree in the exotic garden of the Woolfs’ summer residence in East Sussex, taking in all the aromas of flowers and plants, the sound of swarming bees and the sweet scent of figs about to burst out with ripeness and wonder which experiences, those of dog or man, are closer to artistic sensibilities. Woolf seems to be of the opinion that, sometimes, the feelings of animals are more genuine, if not more human than humans themselves. And after reading this delightful novella and sitting under the shade of that fig tree, how can I disagree? Monk’s House, East Sussex

  2. 5 out of 5

    Fionnuala

    ..the Victorians loved biographies, especially biographies of eminent people - kings, queens and other distinguished members of society. Flush is the biography of such an eminent Victorian. Or rather Flush is a parody of a biography of an eminent Victorian. We might even say that Flush is a parody of a parody of a biography of an eminent Victorian because Flush is in fact the biography of a dog. But not just any dog, an Eminent Dog, the pure bred Cocker Spaniel belonging to another eminent Victo ..the Victorians loved biographies, especially biographies of eminent people - kings, queens and other distinguished members of society. Flush is the biography of such an eminent Victorian. Or rather Flush is a parody of a biography of an eminent Victorian. We might even say that Flush is a parody of a parody of a biography of an eminent Victorian because Flush is in fact the biography of a dog. But not just any dog, an Eminent Dog, the pure bred Cocker Spaniel belonging to another eminent Victorian, the poet Elizabeth Barrett who eventually married Eminent Victorian Robert Browning after they’d exchanged an entire volume of love letters; they then went to live in Italy, taking Flush along with them. (view spoiler)[ (Doesn't Elizabeth look a bit like a spaniel?) (hide spoiler)] That a dog-lover wrote this biography is clear from the outset. The reader even wonders if the book might have been written by a dog, so marvellously done is the dog point of view: the action revolves entirely around sounds, smells and scamperings. But needless to say, Flush wasn’t written by a dog but by Virginia Woolf who it turns out would have loved to have been a dog. In his biography of his aunt, her nephew Quentin Bell, tells us: Flush is not so much a book by a dog lover as a book by someone who would love to be a dog. So if we're wondering about the unusual choice of biographical subject, the dog rather than his mistress, Quentin's quote seems to give us the answer. But there is also the parody aspect already mentioned. In 1933, Woolf wrote to a friend: I was so tired after finishing 'The Waves' that I lay in the garden and read the Browning love letters, and the figure of the dog made me laugh so I couldn’t resist making him a Life. I wanted to play a joke on Lytton. Lytton Strachey was Woolf’s long time friend and a rather irreverent biographer himself; his Eminent Victorians is a parody of the serious biographical style so beloved of the Victorians. So now that we’ve chased our tail sufficiently, we are back where we started. The Victorians loved biographies..

  3. 4 out of 5

    Duane

    This is the biography of a dog, a cocker spaniel named Flush who was owned by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. And through the eyes of Flush, and the writing of Virginia Woolf, we get a look at the life of the poetess herself. It's an interesting way to write about someone, but the talented pen of VW is up to the challenge.

  4. 5 out of 5

    classic reverie

    In 2018, I found Virginia Woolf's Flush and added it to my to read list but somewhere I thought I read, that Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Flush had died around 14 years old, being superstitious enough, I wanted to not read it for a couple years. I decided early this year, 2019, in reading this during my May-Blondie's birthday dog reads which I started doing annually several years ago. Why was I so concerned about Flush's age at death? At that time our little dog, Blondie was alive and nearing Fl In 2018, I found Virginia Woolf's Flush and added it to my to read list but somewhere I thought I read, that Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Flush had died around 14 years old, being superstitious enough, I wanted to not read it for a couple years. I decided early this year, 2019, in reading this during my May-Blondie's birthday dog reads which I started doing annually several years ago. Why was I so concerned about Flush's age at death? At that time our little dog, Blondie was alive and nearing Flush's age. Did my changing it to this May reads have an effect? I am sure not but in the back of my mind I wonder.... Blondie would have made it to her 15 year, tomorrow, May 16 but she died 14 years and around 11 months. As I read this book and as I read my other dog reads, I think of her and what wonderful beings, dogs are in our lives. This is my favorite, Virginia Woolf book so far and as I read this story about Elizabeth's Flush, it is easy to see why dogs are so part of our lives and contribute to our happiness as we do theirs. Woolf does a wonderful job seeing life through Flush's eyes and all he had to give up in his life to be a true companion but what he gained also in returned love. The story starts as he is a puppy gifted from writer, Mary Mitford to her friend Elizabeth Barrett. The change in his life and the changes he would further see as Elizabeth becomes friends with Mr. Browning. Woolf takes several quotes from Elizabeth's letters to give us a better understanding of her feelings for Flush. Virginia at the end of this Kindle edition brings through several notes a better understanding of many things described in the story with more being stated. Flush was actually kidnapped 3 times but in the book, it was once. This dog kidnapping was a common occurrence back then and I remember in Ouida's Puck, that fictitious dog being kidnapped in London too. Virginia made us feel what Flush felt during the whole miserable ordeal and afterwards. Woolf shows the relationship between owner and her dog but also of Elizabeth's life in Wimpole Street but her married life too. This is indeed a favorite of mine and looking through the eyes of Flush had me thinking about Blondie and all the other dogs in my life. It certainly is a special relationship that is truly worth it, even when your loved one is gone, you had had the love that can never be taken from you heart.😘💖💜🐶💙💞💜🐶🐶🐶😘 Below I quoted from a poetry site, Elizabeth's poem on Flush. "To Flush, My Dog BY ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING LOVING friend, the gift of one, Who, her own true faith, hath run, Through thy lower nature ; Be my benediction said With my hand upon thy head, Gentle fellow-creature ! Like a lady's ringlets brown, Flow thy silken ears adown Either side demurely, Of thy silver-suited breast Shining out from all the rest Of thy body purely. Darkly brown thy body is, Till the sunshine, striking this, Alchemize its dulness, — When the sleek curls manifold Flash all over into gold, With a burnished fulness. Underneath my stroking hand, Startled eyes of hazel bland Kindling, growing larger, — Up thou leapest with a spring, Full of prank and curvetting, Leaping like a charger. Leap ! thy broad tail waves a light ; Leap ! thy slender feet are bright, Canopied in fringes. Leap — those tasselled ears of thine Flicker strangely, fair and fine, Down their golden inches Yet, my pretty sportive friend, Little is 't to such an end That I praise thy rareness ! Other dogs may be thy peers Haply in these drooping ears, And this glossy fairness. But of thee it shall be said, This dog watched beside a bed Day and night unweary, — Watched within a curtained room, Where no sunbeam brake the gloom Round the sick and dreary. Roses, gathered for a vase, In that chamber died apace, Beam and breeze resigning — This dog only, waited on, Knowing that when light is gone, Love remains for shining. Other dogs in thymy dew Tracked the hares and followed through Sunny moor or meadow — This dog only, crept and crept Next a languid cheek that slept, Sharing in the shadow. Other dogs of loyal cheer Bounded at the whistle clear, Up the woodside hieing — This dog only, watched in reach Of a faintly uttered speech, Or a louder sighing. And if one or two quick tears Dropped upon his glossy ears, Or a sigh came double, — Up he sprang in eager haste, Fawning, fondling, breathing fast, In a tender trouble. And this dog was satisfied, If a pale thin hand would glide, Down his dewlaps sloping, — Which he pushed his nose within, After, — platforming his chin On the palm left open. This dog, if a friendly voice Call him now to blyther choice Than such chamber-keeping, Come out ! ' praying from the door, — Presseth backward as before, Up against me leaping. Therefore to this dog will I, Tenderly not scornfully, Render praise and favour ! With my hand upon his head, Is my benediction said Therefore, and for ever. And because he loves me so, Better than his kind will do Often, man or woman, Give I back more love again Than dogs often take of men, — Leaning from my Human. Blessings on thee, dog of mine, Pretty collars make thee fine, Sugared milk make fat thee ! Pleasures wag on in thy tail — Hands of gentle motion fail Nevermore, to pat thee ! Downy pillow take thy head, Silken coverlid bestead, Sunshine help thy sleeping ! No fly 's buzzing wake thee up — No man break thy purple cup, Set for drinking deep in. Whiskered cats arointed flee — Sturdy stoppers keep from thee Cologne distillations ; Nuts lie in thy path for stones, And thy feast-day macaroons Turn to daily rations ! Mock I thee, in wishing weal ? — Tears are in my eyes to feel Thou art made so straightly, Blessing needs must straighten too, — Little canst thou joy or do, Thou who lovest greatly. Yet be blessed to the height Of all good and all delight Pervious to thy nature, — Only loved beyond that line, With a love that answers thine, Loving fellow-creature ! "

  5. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Spuckler

    2018 Rereading Woolf's least know book. A biography English poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning's red cocker spaniel. Woolf does an excellent job of telling the story from the Flush's perspective. 2012 A good story. We lost our rescued Doberman yesterday to heart failure so a dog book seemed in order.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    Dogs are color blind.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    This was too tempting to resist. The great stream-of-consciousness novelist pulls off a “biography” of the beloved dog of Victorian poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning. It was a nice trifle, though missing some of the emotional engagement that comes from direct knowledge of the animal by the author. Flush was a cocker Spaniel who grew up in the country, and then was brought to the London household of Barrett. Their first encounter give you some of the flavor of Woolf’s approach to capturing his exper This was too tempting to resist. The great stream-of-consciousness novelist pulls off a “biography” of the beloved dog of Victorian poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning. It was a nice trifle, though missing some of the emotional engagement that comes from direct knowledge of the animal by the author. Flush was a cocker Spaniel who grew up in the country, and then was brought to the London household of Barrett. Their first encounter give you some of the flavor of Woolf’s approach to capturing his experience: “Oh Flush!” said Miss Barrett. For the first time she looked him in the face. For the first time Flush looked at the lady lying on the sofa. Each was surprised. Heavy curls hung down on either side of Miss Barrett’s face; large bright eyes shone out; a large mouth smiled. Heavy ears hung down on each side of Miss Flush’s face; his eyes, too, were large and bright: his mouth was wide. There was a likeness between them. As they gazed at each other each felt: Here I am—and then each felt: But how different! Hers was the pale worn face of an invalid, cut off from air, light, freedom. His was the warm ruddy face of a young animal; instinct with health and energy. Broken asunder, yet made in the same mould, could it be that each completed what was dormant in the other? She might have been—all that; and he—But no. Between them lay the widest gulf that can separate one being from another. She spoke. He was dumb. She was woman; he was dog. Thus closely united, thus immensely divided, they gazed at each other. Then with one bound Flush sprang to the sofa and laid himself to where he was to lie ever after—on the rug at Miss Barrett’s feet. In fact Elizabeth Barrett did have a cocker spaniel look: For source material, Woolf had Barrett’s references to Flush in her poems and letters. The rest comes from her imagination of what it must have been like. Like William James characterization of a baby’s experience of the world as a “blooming, buzzing confusion”, here Woolf projects Flush’s experience of his first outing into London with his new master: The carriage stopped. He entered mysterious arcades filed with clouds and webs of tinted gauze. A million airs from China, from Arabia, wafted their frail incense into the remotest fibres of his senses. Swiftly over the counters flashed yards of gleaming silk; more darkly, more slowly rolled the ponderous bombazine. Scissors snipped; coins sparkled. Paper was folded; string tied. What with nodding plumes, waving streamers, tossing horses, yellow liveries, passing faces, leaping, dancing up, down, Flush, satiated with the multiplicity of his sensations, slept, drowsed, dreamt and knew no more until he was lifted out of the carriage and the door of Wimpole Street shut on him again. This is all charming. However, Woolf seems incapable of portraying humor and play that lies in the hearts of the dogs we truly love. She stretches for a bit of whimsy in the following, which effectively satirizing the class system of London: Flush knew before the summer had passed that there is no equality among dogs: there are high dogs and low dogs. Which, then, was he? No sooner had Flush got home than he examined himself carefully in the looking-glass. Heaven be praised, he was a dog of birth and breeding! His head was smooth; his eyes were prominent but not guzzled; his feet were feathered; he was the equal of the best-bred cocker in Wimpole Street. … When about this time Miss Barrett observed him staring in the glass, she was mistaken. He was a philosopher, she thought, meditating the difference between appearance and reality. On the contrary, he was an aristocrat considering his points. For drama, the high points in this tale include a period of jealousy when Robert Browning comes on the scene, a terrifying incident where Flush is dognapped and ransomed, and an epiphany of new freedoms for Flush that come when the married couple moves to the Italy. A dog’s eye view of their celebrated romance is a nice deflation. Flush’s time with the kidnappers supplements Dickens with a dog’s vision of stinking squalor experienced by the lower classes. The time in Italy demonstrates a cure for the Victorian ills of London, as Elizabeth and Flush both blossom in health and egalatarian outlook. So should you read this book? It’s at least worth it for bragging rights to be able to say you tossed off a book by Virginia Woolf in a sitting or two. And to say that the stream of consciousness made you smile a lot. Who would take the lack of belly laughs a deal killer? Though you can’t find it on the bookstore shelves with “Marley and Me” or the dusty memoir section of library with “My Dog Skip” or “The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be”, you can resort to reading it online at: http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/w/woolf... I will leave this with Woolf’s rendering of the paradoxes in dog-human relations based on one of Browning’s poems: The fact was that they could not communicate with words, and it was a fact that led to much misunderstanding. Yet did it not lead also to a particular intimacy? “Writing,”—Miss Barrett once exclaimed after a morning’s toil, “:writing, writing …” After all, she may have thought, do words say everything? Can words say anything? Do not words destroy the symbol that lies beyond the reach of words? Once at least Miss Barrett seems to have found it so. She was lying, thinking; she had forgotten Flush altogether, and her thoughts were so sad that the tears fell upon the pillow. Then suddenly a hairy head was pressed against her; large bright eyes shown in hers; and she started. Was it Flush or was it Pan? Was she no longer an invalid in Wimpole Street, but a Greek nymph in some dim grove in Arcady? And did the bearded god himself press his lips to hers? The sun burnt and love blazed. But suppose Flush had been able to speak—would he not have said something sensible about the potato disease in Ireland? For a lyrical rendering Barrett’s love for Flush, go to the primary source of Elizabeth’s poem: “To Flush, My Dog”

  8. 5 out of 5

    WhatIReallyRead

    Flush is a biography of a dog. To be more precise, Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s dog. I picked this book up knowing nothing about it, as is my habit, and was pleasantly surprised. First of all, I loved the writing. When it comes to Virginia Woolf, it seems, I always do. I bought this particular volume about a decade ago, among her other books, for that very reason. Second of all, the subject matter got to me. I love dogs and I love poetry. Reading a book about a female Victorian poet from her dog Flush is a biography of a dog. To be more precise, Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s dog. I picked this book up knowing nothing about it, as is my habit, and was pleasantly surprised. First of all, I loved the writing. When it comes to Virginia Woolf, it seems, I always do. I bought this particular volume about a decade ago, among her other books, for that very reason. Second of all, the subject matter got to me. I love dogs and I love poetry. Reading a book about a female Victorian poet from her dog's perspective was all I need. The first time I found out about Elizabeth & Robert Browning's fascinating love story was while reading their letters in the Love Letters anthology. It was a lovely surprise to have a different glimpse into their lives. I am now so invested in this I bought Browning: Poems - a collection of both Elizabeth & Robert's works. The book itself tugged at my heart. Some view Flush as a humorous work, but I'm sentimental enough to really worry along with all the dog's worries, be scared for him, root for him, and generally be a mess and cry at all the appropriate and inappropriate times. I cared about Flush so much! Others view this book as one kind of metaphor or another, a veiled commentary on women's rights, social commentary etc. The unusual form of the book did open up a lot of possibilities and angles, turning it multifaceted and as deep as the reader makes it out to be. I mostly took the book at face value - as a clever way to write a biography of Elizabeth Browning, an intriguing look at Victorian England and simply as a book about a dog. Woolf did a great job here in all ways. The edition I own is an Oxford World's Classics series, so there were an extensive introduction and commentary about all the ways one can interpret this work. I appreciate this kind of stuff, it adds context and helps not to miss out on things that lie beneath the surface. I only own a few other editions like this, and will probably get more, since I like their layouts, covers, and composition.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kyriakos Sorokkou

    This was the 6th book I read by Virginia Woolf and her easiest, so far. It's a peculiar little book with a cute theme. I don't want to downgrade it by using the word cute but when the protagonist is a dog than there's some cuteness in it. This is a biography of a dog called Flush. Flush was Elizabeth Barrett Browning's beloved dog. She was a Victorian poet and her husband was a poet as well, Robert Browning. He was the one who wrote the epic poem that inspired Stephen King's The Dark Tower Series This was the 6th book I read by Virginia Woolf and her easiest, so far. It's a peculiar little book with a cute theme. I don't want to downgrade it by using the word cute but when the protagonist is a dog than there's some cuteness in it. This is a biography of a dog called Flush. Flush was Elizabeth Barrett Browning's beloved dog. She was a Victorian poet and her husband was a poet as well, Robert Browning. He was the one who wrote the epic poem that inspired Stephen King's The Dark Tower Series, Childe Roland to The Dark Tower Came This is not just the biography of the dog, Flush, but also the biography of his owner, Mrs Browning. We see her with Flush as a puppy and she as a frail Miss Barrett, living in a respectable street in London. We see Flush as an adult dog in Italy with her now called Mrs Browning. We see his jealousy when she gave birth do a boy. We see kidnappings, life in Italy contrasted with life in London, and we learn about the history of his breed (Spaniel). This is also a book that shows us how life was for dogs in the Victorian era. So in other words this is a fictional / non-fiction book (aka biography), since every time Woolf decided she was going to write a non-fiction biography her imagination took over. This is what happened here, in Orlando, and in a third biography, Roger Fry's (a friend of hers). Woolf drew her material from two poems written by Barrett Browning about her dog and her letters between her and her husband. If you like dogs, Victorian era, and biographies this is for you. 3.5 stars

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ronald Morton

    This is one of my wife's favorite books. Prior to having children, when we used to go used book shopping together, she would buy any copy of this she came across to gift to friends. Up until now I'd never read it (in my defense, she's read almost none of my favorite books, and I've read many of hers through the years, and will continue to do so). Flush is a sweet little book, beautifully written, about Elizabeth Barrett Browning's dog Flush (and, in the margins, it is also about EBB). It manages This is one of my wife's favorite books. Prior to having children, when we used to go used book shopping together, she would buy any copy of this she came across to gift to friends. Up until now I'd never read it (in my defense, she's read almost none of my favorite books, and I've read many of hers through the years, and will continue to do so). Flush is a sweet little book, beautifully written, about Elizabeth Barrett Browning's dog Flush (and, in the margins, it is also about EBB). It manages to capture the deep love (and also the depth of general emotion) felt by a dog for its "person"; also, it provides an ahuman perspective of human relationships, and brings a wisdom that is unexpected in a book about a dog. A lovely book, well recommended to any and all dog lovers.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    This is a biography of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's red cocker spaniel named Flish. Woolf does an amazing job of telling the story from Flush's perspective. This book suprised me quite alot, this was an excellent and powerful story that made you conect with the dog.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jesse

    After completing the groundbreaking experiment The Waves, Woolf “rested” by working on what she considered a mere trifle—a short novel that would eventually become Flush: A Biography, a version of the courtship of poets Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning as seen through the eyes of their omnipresent cocker spaniel. Using historical facts as a platform, what emerges is a witty and unusual take on one of the most famous real-life romances of all time, and even if it comes off as rather slight w After completing the groundbreaking experiment The Waves, Woolf “rested” by working on what she considered a mere trifle—a short novel that would eventually become Flush: A Biography, a version of the courtship of poets Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning as seen through the eyes of their omnipresent cocker spaniel. Using historical facts as a platform, what emerges is a witty and unusual take on one of the most famous real-life romances of all time, and even if it comes off as rather slight when placed next to Woolf’s other novels (particularly her later ones), it’s certainly one of her most lighthearted and irrepressible, and tremendous fun.

  13. 4 out of 5

    MK

    My first Virginia Woolf novel, read b/c one of my groups chose it as a monthly read. Really easy to read! and enjoyable, as well. Having had 3 cocker spaniels in the past, I enjoyed it all the more. :)

  14. 5 out of 5

    Luís C.

    A pretty little novel, but no more. The form is poetic but the story remains flat, without bouncing. The idea of placing his autobiography through the life of his dog is not badly done, but it lacks some notes that would connect us to the reality of the facts. However, the methods of Virgina Woolf of foreignization used by are interesting, the vision of Flush on our world is quite captivating and it was in his eyes we find the beauty of the author's lyricism.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Hana

    Ha! So you thought this was a book about a dog? Nope. It's by Virginia Woolf, so it is really clever social satire: a dog's eye view of Victorian mores, the absurdities of class consciousness, the stultifying life of London ladies (and dogs), the joys of running free in Italy, and the delights of sexual liberation. Of course Woolf has great fun writing from the point of view of one who experiences life as a sequence of vast and varied scents and we get some interesting insights into Elizabeth Bar Ha! So you thought this was a book about a dog? Nope. It's by Virginia Woolf, so it is really clever social satire: a dog's eye view of Victorian mores, the absurdities of class consciousness, the stultifying life of London ladies (and dogs), the joys of running free in Italy, and the delights of sexual liberation. Of course Woolf has great fun writing from the point of view of one who experiences life as a sequence of vast and varied scents and we get some interesting insights into Elizabeth Barrett Browning's life both before and after her marriage. Woolf draws on Browning's letters and poems to create this 'biography', but the story is amply embellished by her own imaginings. This is how Elizabeth Barrett Browning described her English cocker spaniel, Flush: "Like a lady's ringlets brown, Flow thy silken ears adown Either side demurely, Of thy silver-suited breast Shining out from all the rest Of thy body purely. Darkly brown thy body is, Till the sunshine, striking this, Alchemize its dulness, — When the sleek curls manifold Flash all over into gold, With a burnished fulness." You can read the whole poem here: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/... Browning wrote a second poem about Flush that closes out the biography's final, touching scenes: "You see this dog. It was but yesterday I mused, forgetful of his presence here..." http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/fl...

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Jackson

    This concise biography of Elizabeth Barrett-Browning's spaniel is super charming, surprisingly dramatic, and beautifully crafted. For fans of "Orlando," this is wonderful in a similarly fantastical vein. It's mostly known as a trifle today, though for many readers it might serve as an ideal introduction to Virginia Woolf.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Smiley (aka umberto)

    3.50 stars We can find this very brief synopsis enticingly informative, "This playful, witty biography of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's pet spaniel - involving Italian travels and kidnappings - asks what it is to be a dog, and a human." (back cover) The dog in question called Flush, a corker/spotted spaniel, is one of the key characters brilliantly narrated by Virginia Woolf with her sense of humor, we simply can't help wondering how she has written so understandingly that few writers, I think, co 3.50 stars We can find this very brief synopsis enticingly informative, "This playful, witty biography of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's pet spaniel - involving Italian travels and kidnappings - asks what it is to be a dog, and a human." (back cover) The dog in question called Flush, a corker/spotted spaniel, is one of the key characters brilliantly narrated by Virginia Woolf with her sense of humor, we simply can't help wondering how she has written so understandingly that few writers, I think, could surpass her descriptions on Flush's nature, thinking, reactions, etc. in terms of his environments and ordeals both in England and Italy in 1842. From its opening sentence "It is universally admitted that the family from which the subject of this memoir claims descent is one of the greatest antiquity" (p. 1), it instantly reminded me of this one in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, that is, "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." Probably, it's a paraphrase in her own style, I mean the first four words as compared to Ms Austen's six ones. I know there are innumerable Woolf scholars worldwide; therefore, I wouldn't say anything traditional or typical on what I have read, rather I would say something notably interesting or worth considering or applying in our writing later on. For instance, 1 So Mrs Browning every day, as she tossed off her Chianti and broke another orange from the branch, praised Italy and lamented poor, dull, damp, sunless, joyless, expensive, conventional England. (pp. 75-6): 2 'Flush', Mrs Browning wrote to her sister, 'is wise.' She was thinking perhaps of the Greeks saying that happiness is only to be reached through suffering. . . . (p. 90) 3 There was a cab at the door. Flush waited philosophically in the hall. (p. 91): 4 The deep and dreamless sleep of old age was heavy on him. Indeed to-day his sleep was deeper than usual, for as he slept the darkness seemed to thicken round him. (p. 97) 5 The sun burnt deliciously through the lily leaves, and through the green and white umbrella. (p. 104) From the Extracts 1-5 above, we can see that they are all brilliantly typical Virginia Woolf, in other words, she herself has long been the pioneer in writing creatively as her own since I have never encountered such writing like this before. As we can see from the underlined words, they should suffice to establish her literary stature as one of the eminent writers in the 20th century. To continue . . .

  18. 4 out of 5

    Xandra

    I just read a biography of a dog, that’s how much I love Virginia Woolf. (I’m in too deep, help)

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ali

    I have been looking forward to reading Flush for months, and I really wasn’t disappointed. Written in the period after Virginia Woolf had completed writing The Waves; which she had found so draining Flush, is a complete joy. Flush – for those who don’t know – is a biography of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s dog, a cocker spaniel that was her constant companion, both before and after her marriage to Robert Browning. The book is a combination of fiction and non-fiction, through which we meet the two I have been looking forward to reading Flush for months, and I really wasn’t disappointed. Written in the period after Virginia Woolf had completed writing The Waves; which she had found so draining Flush, is a complete joy. Flush – for those who don’t know – is a biography of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s dog, a cocker spaniel that was her constant companion, both before and after her marriage to Robert Browning. The book is a combination of fiction and non-fiction, through which we meet the two nineteenth century poets, revealing something of the early years of their marriage. Although it appears so much lighter in tone than many of her other works, Flush does in fact consider social inequalities and the way that society treated and classified its women. Virginia Woolf employs her famous stream of consciousness style to explore women writers, through the point of view of a small, spoiled brown dog. Apparently Woolf drew her inspiration from the two poems that Elizabeth Barrett Browning published about her dog. full review: https://heavenali.wordpress.com/2016/...

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore

    A very sweet little book- Woolf captures the world and EBB's life through Flush's eyes (and thoughts) perfectly.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    SO FUN. woolf uses this biography of flush (a dog, albeit an impressively complex & well-bred one!) as a vehicle for social commentary, gorgeous language exercises, psychological investigations, existential ramblings, & an indirect biography of said dog's mistress, who happens to be elizabeth barrett browning (I KNOW). excerpts from ebb's letters fill things out nicely. israel & i have a distinct voice for saying "page-turner" because it's such a lame phrase, but i'm going to go ahea SO FUN. woolf uses this biography of flush (a dog, albeit an impressively complex & well-bred one!) as a vehicle for social commentary, gorgeous language exercises, psychological investigations, existential ramblings, & an indirect biography of said dog's mistress, who happens to be elizabeth barrett browning (I KNOW). excerpts from ebb's letters fill things out nicely. israel & i have a distinct voice for saying "page-turner" because it's such a lame phrase, but i'm going to go ahead & say page-turner. hilarious & beautiful writing. ********** ...she laughed, pityingly; as if it were absurd -- Flush, poor Flush could feel nothing of what she felt. He could know nothing of what she knew. Never had such wastes of dismal distance separated them. He lay there ignored; he might not have been there, he felt. She no longer remembered his existence. ********** Here, then the biographer must perforce come to a pause. Where two or three thousand words are insufficient for what we see - and Mrs. Browning had to admit herself beaten by the Apennines: "Of these things I cannot give you any idea," she admitted -- there are no more than two words and perhaps one-half for what we smell. The human nose is practically non-existent. The greatest poets in the world have smelt nothing but roses on the one hand, and dung on the other. The infinite gradations that lie between are unrecorded. Yet it was in the world of smell that Flush mostly lived. Love was chiefly smell; form and colour were smell; music and architecture, law, politics and science were smell. To him religion itself was smell. To describe his simplest experience with the daily chop or biscuit is beyond our power. Not even Mr. Swinburne could have said what the smell of Wimpole Street meant to Flush on a hot afternoon in June. As for describing the smell of a spaniel mixed with the smell of torches, laurels, incense, banners, wax candles and a garland of rose leaves crushed by a satin heel that has been laid up in camphor, perhaps Shakespeare, had he paused in the middle of writing Antony and Cleopatra -- But Shakespeare did not pause. ********** He followed the swooning sweetness of incense into the violet intricacies of dark cathedrals; and, sniffing, tried to lap the gold on the window-stained tomb. ********** Flush felt himself emasculated, diminished, ashamed. What am I now? he thought, gazing into the glass. And the glass replied with the brutal sincerity of glasses, "You are nothing." He was nobody. Certainly he was no longer a cocker spaniel. But as he gazed, his ears bald now, and uncurled, seemed to twitch. It was as if the potent spirits of truth and laughter were whispering in them. To be nothing -- is that not, after all, the most satisfactory state in the whole world? He looked again. There was his ruff. To caricature the pomposity of those who claim that they are something -- was that not in its way a career? Anyhow, settle the matter as he might, there could be no doubt that he was free from fleas. He shook his ruff. He danced on his nude, attenuated legs. His spirits rose. So might a great beauty, rising from a bed of sickness and finding her face eternally disfigured, make a bonfire of clothes and cosmetics, and laugh with joy to think that she need never look in the glass again or dread a lover's coolness or a rival's beauty. So might a clergyman, cased for twenty years in starch and broadcloth, cast his collar into the dustbin and snatch the works of Voltaire from the cupboard. So Flush scampered off clipped all over into the likeness of a lion, but free from fleas. "Flush," Mrs. Browning wrote to her sister, "is wise." She was thinking perhaps of the Greek saying that happiness is only to be reached through suffering. The true philosopher is he who has lost his coat but is free from fleas.

  22. 5 out of 5

    André Carreira

    The most fun read I've had in a while, along with Wise Blood. This book is a whole universe of sensations being described by a master of poetic prose. She creates a pretty accurate (I'd love to become a dog in another life and confirm it) canine world-view. It is through the nose of a dog through which we smell her delightful phrases, and get glimpses into the biography of the dogs owner. The owner being, of course, Elizabeth Barret Browning. However, and even though I understand what she's gettin The most fun read I've had in a while, along with Wise Blood. This book is a whole universe of sensations being described by a master of poetic prose. She creates a pretty accurate (I'd love to become a dog in another life and confirm it) canine world-view. It is through the nose of a dog through which we smell her delightful phrases, and get glimpses into the biography of the dogs owner. The owner being, of course, Elizabeth Barret Browning. However, and even though I understand what she's getting at, I think Woolf focuses too much on the social status of dogs--which really does not exist materially except in our minds. Dogs have simple natures. They are only kings or peasants insofar as they are involved with our reckless, silly, complicated human agenda. Most purebreds I know will be just as happy, if not more, drinking from a puddle than from a bowl. I'm terrible at naming pets, so I couldn't help but smile at Mrs. Brownings name-choice. I feel I am no longer alone. My very own border collie, Krusty, held his head raised in the most supercilious and lordly pose while I was reading this, and I will happily show it to you.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    I was hesitant to read more of Virginia Woolf, since I've had trouble with her "stream of consciousness" style. But when I discovered that she used it to portray life through the eyes of a dog, I was curious to read this. I found it on Project Gutenberg (free e-books online) last night and decided to preview it to see if I could get into the writing. Surprisingly, I found it very easy to read and I was enjoying it so much that I kept on reading, even though I don't like reading on my phone. If yo I was hesitant to read more of Virginia Woolf, since I've had trouble with her "stream of consciousness" style. But when I discovered that she used it to portray life through the eyes of a dog, I was curious to read this. I found it on Project Gutenberg (free e-books online) last night and decided to preview it to see if I could get into the writing. Surprisingly, I found it very easy to read and I was enjoying it so much that I kept on reading, even though I don't like reading on my phone. If you've ever wanted to read a short and sweet book from the perspective of a dog, look no further. I also really loved the settings. First, Flush the cocker spaniel grows up in London, and then his family moves to Italy when he is older. Throughout his life he watches his owner, famed poetess Elizabeth Barrett Browning, go through different stages of life - when she falls in love, has a baby, etc. and we see how she treats him differently. I'm glad that I found this book in a recommendations list on the blog "The Attic on Eighth" (here is the article: http://theatticoneighth.com/gentler-w...).

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lady Drinkwell

    A delightful read, I am forced to give it five stars. I love Virginia Woolf's writing style, I have always been fascinated by the story of Elizabeth Barret Browning, and I have absolutely fallen in love with this little dog. My heart was in my mouth reading of some of his misadventures.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Bernard

    **READ THIS.** The prose in this little book is absolutely breathtaking and is, in my very humble opinion, one of Woolf's most heartfelt, intimate works. Anyone who has ever lost her heart to a spaniel will savor every word and recognize the spirited, headstrong, loving nature of her beloved pet. Elizabeth Barrett Browning's own written work describing Flush validates Woolf's narrative and even sublimates the love and devotion that a spaniel and her owner experience. As an added bonus, anyone who **READ THIS.** The prose in this little book is absolutely breathtaking and is, in my very humble opinion, one of Woolf's most heartfelt, intimate works. Anyone who has ever lost her heart to a spaniel will savor every word and recognize the spirited, headstrong, loving nature of her beloved pet. Elizabeth Barrett Browning's own written work describing Flush validates Woolf's narrative and even sublimates the love and devotion that a spaniel and her owner experience. As an added bonus, anyone who has an interest in 1800s England and Italy must read this book. There are descriptions of country life, city slums, exotic markets, spiritualism, dognapping: snapshots that are spare, elegant and packed with visual imagery in ways that only Virginia Woolf could master. If I had to pick a single book to read and analyze over and over again, this would be the book. There is literature and then there is writing that transcends literature. This book is transcendent from the first page to the very last.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Joan

    What is your definition of a good novel? Engaging characters so well developed that you can almost see their world through their eyes -CHECK! A taut plot with drama, suspense, tension, romance and no dropped plot lines- CHECK! Excellent writing, clear, concise and evocative CHECK! Flush leads an exciting life and Virginia Woolf portrays the ups/downs and round-abouts masterfully. Her writing her is light, easy reading. If you are skeptical of literary writing have no fear - this novel is just good cle What is your definition of a good novel? Engaging characters so well developed that you can almost see their world through their eyes -CHECK! A taut plot with drama, suspense, tension, romance and no dropped plot lines- CHECK! Excellent writing, clear, concise and evocative CHECK! Flush leads an exciting life and Virginia Woolf portrays the ups/downs and round-abouts masterfully. Her writing her is light, easy reading. If you are skeptical of literary writing have no fear - this novel is just good clean fun with a puppy.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Esther | braveliteraryworld

    Absolutely lovely. Such a refreshing and insightful biography of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, from the unique perspective of her pet dog. Woolf's writing is splendid here. Filled with warmth and tenderness without being too sentimental. Awed at how she can say so much through a dog's eyes.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    Funny, moving, an absolute delight - the most charming book!

  29. 5 out of 5

    John

    An enjoyable novella. Woolf tells the life story of Flush a golden spaniel owned by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Through the dogs eyes his life unfolds with his happy puppyhood to being owned by Elizabeth who is like a prisoner in her fathers house in Wimpole Street. Here she spend most of her time in her bedroom with Flush who stoically accepts his inactive life. Flush sees the word through smell and watches Elizabeth’s courtship with trepidation, gets dog napped and Woolf describes the squalor An enjoyable novella. Woolf tells the life story of Flush a golden spaniel owned by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Through the dogs eyes his life unfolds with his happy puppyhood to being owned by Elizabeth who is like a prisoner in her fathers house in Wimpole Street. Here she spend most of her time in her bedroom with Flush who stoically accepts his inactive life. Flush sees the word through smell and watches Elizabeth’s courtship with trepidation, gets dog napped and Woolf describes the squalor and poverty of Whitechapel. He is reunited with Elizabeth after she pays his ransom. Then he goes to Italy for an idyllic existence. The novel uses Flush as a means to describe class and how Flush recognises himself as dog aristocracy but then become very egalitarian. Woolf captures the dogs life wonderfully and the ups and downs of being a dog from puppyhood to old age.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Olga

    Love, love, love this book - this what I only think!

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