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Flush: A Biography Paperback – October 4, 1976

4.5 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

A novel contribution to Browning material, which will interest anyone who saw THE BARRETTS OF WIMPOLE STREET, anyone who is collecting Browning data, and most people who like to read about dogs. For with the slenderest material to work on, Miss Woolf has produced a sympathetic study of the famous spaniel, and made him a real and vivid personality. First owned by Miss Mitford, he roamed the country at will; after he was given to Miss Barrett, he settled down into the role of invalid's dog. When Robert Browning appeared on the scene, he showed keen resentment at sharing his mistress' attention, but eventually accepted him as inevitable. The move to Italy was a ticket to freedom. Though essentially Flush's story, Virginia Woolf has given interesting sidelights on the Brownings and those associated with them, and she has told it in her most delightful style, devoid of the indirection and obscurity of most of her fiction. (Kirkus Reviews)

About the Author

VIRGINIA WOOLF (1882–1941) was one of the major literary figures of the twentieth century. An admired literary critic, she authored many essays, letters, journals, and short stories in addition to her groundbreaking novels.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 204 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; 1 edition (October 4, 1976)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156319527
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156319522
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #246,287 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jay Dickson VINE VOICE on March 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
FLUSH probably gets the least respect of all of Virginia Woolf's books, and many critics at the time of its publication in 1933 (and since) thought she was being more than a bit twee in telling the satory of the Elizabeth Barrett-Robert Browning courtship from the point of view of Barrett's adored cocker spaniel. But this experiment in biography is much more than that: it's an attempt to understand the world from a non-human point of view, and it also is Woolf's most overt look in her fiction at class difference and (more unusually) at the world of crime. It's also a terrific addition to Woolf's extended engagement from an early 20th-c. perspective with the world of genteel Victorian society and its snobberies and hypocrisies.
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Format: Paperback
I bought and read Flush with some scepticism. While I can't praise Virginia Woolf enough, I tend to shy away from animal stories. Flush, however, is the exception to the rule. My scepticism soon dissipated and I was thrown into a world more human than most written worlds. Flush is among the most sympathetic and beautiful character sketches I have ever come across. This is a very different book for Woolf and I couldn't be more glad that she took the chance to write something that seems so trivial. There is feeling of release in the way it is written, but it is not flippant. Rather, it makes the character of Flush that much more accessible to the reader.
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Format: Paperback
One of my very favorite reads this year. This is a biography of sorts - and a fiction of sorts. It's the story of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's cocker spanial Flush. An absolute charmer. This is one of those volumes that can truly be read in a single setting - it is possessed of a free flowing lyric quality often absent in this writer's more cerebral fictions. Still, this isn't a slight piece by any means, but a richly detailed work of the imagination by one of the great literary minds of the past century. This is the kind of book you'll want to recommend to all your friends.
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Format: Paperback
A good friend and I have an ongoing discussion about the anthropomorphization of animals in literature. He's agin' it. I'm not.

The beauty of FLUSH is that Woolf extends her technique of anthropomorphization to the humans. She figures out how to put you inside a dog's mind and desires and habits. Then she uses the same techniques on the humans. And while she is not unkind to any of these characters, she's not lenient toward any of them either.

That's the problem with most anthropomorphization. (Egad, do I have to type that word again?) It skins some poor animal to dress up a fictionally perfect human. Bad anthropomorphization (sigh) symbolizes a flat fraction of our human nature and represents it as the whole thing, or the most desirable part. This cheapens the human and disposes of the animal.

I love Woolf. She never cheapens anyone. She never makes cartoons of people (or of dogs). Read her if you're tired of shallow media portraits or snap judgments at the office water cooler. You know the kind. Comments on character that may be superficially correct, and you can't quite put your finger on it, but you feel the judgment's not fair at all... Woolf never does that to you.

Woolf observes her people (and her canine), lets you understand their most subtle good and bad impulses. With Woolf, we don't have to choose between knowing and loving another person. We can do both.

And we can love Flush, not as the idealized human, but as one actually does love a dog. Woolf has given us Flush - not a fantasy human in fake dog form - but a real dog, in print, a trusted and familiar companion.
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Format: Paperback
I found "Flush" a sentimental story of a moment in the life of Elizabeth Barret. Her romance with Robert Browning and some insight into her father's lack of understanding of his daughter's hunger. THIS BOOK REMINDED ME OF "White Fang" by Jack London which should be reread. Good insight into the Marlybonne area of London and the presence of deprived and poverty in London just in back of the elegance of Wimpole Street. I will try to get all my dog loving friends to read this book especially those with Cocker Spaniels. Flush's life is a metaphore for all those natural emotions of human beings and we do not know of the emotional hunger of animals. We have a very real imaginative feeling for the humanity of dogs who give so much love unselfishly to their masters who do not have to offer much. Flush gave up much to be a lap dog for Elizabeth. His waiting for the postman to ring the bell with the letter from Browing was a beautiful descriptive side to the book.
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Format: Paperback
Consciously imitating Jane Austen in the opening paragraphs, Virginia Woolf exercises more self-control in this novel than in any other and the result is prose which is less self-indulgent, more lucid, less experimental, more precise if less adventurous than you might expect of this author. The given facts exert a narrative discipline and perhaps Woolf intended it as a book for children. Whatever, it is the product of a gifted writer not straining for effect, a model for young writers to imitate: not the final word on an animal's sensibility and the narrative excitement comes mostly from the Barret-Browning storyline: but an easy, enjoyable, well-crafted read.
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