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Flush

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3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  1,875 ratings  ·  168 reviews
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.
Paperback, 204 pages
Published October 4th 1976 by Mariner Books (first published 1933)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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
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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 ...more
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
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A.C.Hale
'I lay in the garden and read the Browning love letters, and the figure of their dog made me laugh so I couldn't resist making him a Life.'

This is Virginia Woolf’s biography of Flush the pet cocker spaniel of Elizabeth Barrett Browning. It tells the story of Flush’s time as a puppy with Mary Mitford before being given to Elizabeth Barrett when she was ill and confined to her rooms in London. He then has to contend with “losing” her to Robert Browning, moving to Italy and witnessing spiritualist
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Yani
Si tuviera que definirlo con una palabra, sería “engañoso” (en un sentido positivo). Aquello que al principio parece ser la biografía del perro de la poeta Elizabeth Barrett Browning termina siendo su historia de vida, pero a través de los ojos del simpático animalito. Así y todo, Woolf no deja de lado problemas que conciernen tanto al perro como a la Humanidad.

El libro empieza con una aproximación muy linda y muy humorística a los orígenes de la raza cocker spaniel, en donde Woolf, con su fi
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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 ...more
Catherine
Here be SPOILERS

I was surprised to run into “Flush” because I’m fairly acquainted with Woolf’s writing (I’m a huge fan of her Common Readers) but I had never heard much about this one. “Flush” is put out by Persephone Books and like all of their books, is a real gem.

Flush was Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s cocker spaniel given to her a friend to cheer Miss Barrett up while she lay on her invalid bed doing invalid things. Like writing poetry and reading books and having friends occasionally visit w
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El
It's sort of accidental that I read this immediately after finishing Woolf's first novel, The Voyage Out, and it probably wasn't the next best book to pick up. I was so blown away by The Voyage Out that I had hoped Flush would be the same way. And since it's about a dog I thought it was a win-win situation.

Sadly, I felt let down.

This is a biography of Flush, Elizabeth Barrett Browning's adorable cocker spaniel. This story is told mostly through the eyes of Flush and tells his adventures from liv
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Maria Carmo
An innovative writer when she lived, Virginia Woolf gives the Reader a glimpse of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's life through the biography of her Spaniel, Flush.
From his early infancy in the farm, to the Writer's house, becoming a witness of the beginning of her relationship to Robert Browning, culminating with the travels to Italy where he will die, this dog lives an adventurous life close to his masters, and therefore being depicted in their letters as well.
The Reader cannot but develop the gre
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Fidias
Valoro muy positivamente ese arte de Woolf de orquestar el pensamiento de todo lo vivo e incluso de lo muerto, de dejar que el lector nade por sensaciones de diversa índole. Pero lo que sobre todo valoro son sus diestras condiciones en el arte de aburrir. Este libro me ha hecho preguntarme muchas cosas ¿Cómo se pueden escribir ciento cincuenta páginas y conseguir que todas y cada una de ellas hagan bostezar?
Desde luego es algo que no está al alcance de cualquiera.
Una vez terminado, no tengo nin
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Danielle
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jamie
What a delight this little tome is! A 'biography' of sorts dealing in the life of Elizabeth Barret- and Robert Browning, narrated by E's cocker spaniel Flush. I read this in conjunction with a re-reading of Orlando, Woolf's other mock-biography (albeit one with a human as the center of consciousness); they work quite nicely as counterparts, I think, particularly as each is so invested in the politics of writing a life; the problematics of the biography-as-form; also in telling what are probably ...more
Ray Campbell
Abstract art is given tremendous credibility by an artist that has the ability to create a range of realistic work. While Woolf's stream of conscientious work is beautiful, her happy little biography of a Dickens' era Spaniel is delightful. The story is told by an omniscient narrator who tells the story of the life of a small dog who lives with an invalid young woman who gets well, travels, marries and has a child. The emphasis is on what the dog is thinking, feeling and experiencing.

This novel
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Don
Love was all; love was enough.

The life of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's cocker spaniel. Beautiful.
Highly recommended for dog owners.
Ivan
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 pas ...more
Eliana Rivero
Me agradó la relación entre un perro y los seres humanos, y de la angustia y sacrificios que puede hacer el animal por sus amos, su familia. Sentí que Flush era más humano que todos los demás personajes. También trabaja otros conceptos como la libertad, la felicidad, el racismo y las jerarquías sociales.
Es mi segundo intento con Woolf. La primera vez fue con Las olas, y de verdad no pude terminarlo. Lo intentaré leer de nuevo.
NancyKay
A "biography" of the dog owned by Elizabeth Barrett prior to and during her marriage to Robert Browning.

I had to skip a bunch in the middle when Flush is kidnapped for ransom by London thugs because I cannot bear to read about anything bad happening to a dog. But Flush is recovered, and gets to live in Florence, so it's all good.
Begoña
"El verdadero filósofo es el que se queda sin pelo y se libra de las pulgas."

Lo mejor de esta novela es la capacidad de Virginia Woolf para conseguir transportar a categoría humana la voz y el espíritu de un perro, haciéndolo protagonista de la historia y logrando hablar por boca de él, mostrando realmente lo que piensa y lo que siente. Sin duda, otra de las hazañas narrativas de la pluma de Woolf.
Naomi
A disappointment. My first Virginia Woolf book. Just not my style, I guess.
Carolinemawer
I loved the most dog-centric bits in this book - the genealogy, the ridiculous etymology (especially the section industriously included and then described as "too fanciful to be seriously entertained), and the smells, the smells, the smells.
But lots of the rest struck me as a little laboured. Why stuff a not-so-interesting biography of EBB into a otherwise-perfectly-good dog biog?
I wanted more on how dumb doggy adoration mixes with lust for soft-eared spotty bitches. Surely Flush wasn't, deep d
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Christopher Roth
What a brilliant idea for a book, a riposte of sorts to Eminent Victorians. I'm surprised this book isn't better known. There should be a whole genre of these, starting with the one that Woolf says in her endnotes deserves to be written: a biography of Thomas Carlyle's dog Nero.
Syd
This book was written in the voice of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's dog. It witnesses her courtship and has many harrowing adventures. It totally delighted me.
Aubrey
Cute. Lighthearted. Beautiful writing. I listened to this on my ipod and there were phrases I wanted to remember, but they were gone. Go hug your dog.
Lynda
Jun 21, 2008 Lynda rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People who love poetry, history, and love stories
Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Brownings' story through the eyes of Elizabeth's beloved dog. Even if you know the story, this is entertaining read.
Hermien
This is an imaginative biography of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's cocker spaniel, is a cross-genre blend of fiction and nonfiction published in 1933. I came across a quote by Mrs Browning “Knowing that when light is going, Love remains for shining” written for her dog Flush and also mentioning Woolf’s novel about the dog in Kate Atkinson’s “When will there be good news”. The book had been sitting on my shelves for a while but because I find Woolf hard going I had put off starting it. Being prompt ...more
Dominique
I have been meaning to read this book for years, and just devoured it in 2 hours. So fun. So witty. Flush = a hero I can relate to?!
Katerina
Если в сравнении с другими книгами, то пять звезд. Если в сравнении с остальными уже прочитанными мной книгами Вульф, то только четыре.
Faith-Anne
Jan 16, 2008 Faith-Anne rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: dog-lovers
Recommended to Faith-Anne by: Rose
Although not Virginia Woolf's best book, "Flush" is still a cute story of what goes on inside a dog's head.
manatee
This is a thoroughly silly book. It is enjoyable but almost written in baby talk. I did have fun reading about poor Flush's many adventures. His inherent canine snobbishness must reflect the class prejudices o of the author.

It really is as self-indulgent and ridiculous as the book written by Shirley Maclaine and her dog.


Still it makes for fun reading.

I was a bit appalled that the Italian market ladies in Florence fed GRAPES to Flush. Grapes are very poisonous for dogs.

All in all,a lighthearte
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Javier Villaseñor
A biography, literally, is the writing of a life; a compilation of know facts and extenuating investigations leading to shape a more-or-less reasonable picture of a life. In such way, we face a biography. But the means for a biography are words and words, as independent yet tied, forever, to the minds of men (for such is their duality), are never exempt of the naughts played by imagination. Thus, a biography is also imagined as a possibility, a fiction, in a way.
Flush reads a life that can't be
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easy read classic...: Flush 4 12 Nov 26, 2012 11:13AM  
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6765
(Adeline) Virginia Woolf was an English novelist and essayist regarded as one of the foremost modernist literary figures of the twentieth century.

During the interwar period, Woolf was a significant figure in London literary society and a member of the Bloomsbury Group. Her most famous works include the novels Mrs Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927), and Orlando (1928), and the book-length es
...more
More about Virginia Woolf...
Mrs. Dalloway To the Lighthouse A Room of One's Own Orlando The Waves

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“Twice Flush had done his utmost to kill his enemy; twice he had failed. And why had he failed, he asked himself? Because he loved Miss Barrett. Looking up at her from under his eyebrows as she lay, severe and silent on the sofa, he knew that he must love her for ever. Things are not simple but complex. If he bit Mr. Browning he bit her too. Hatred is not hatred; hatred is also love.” 6 likes
“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. Confessing our inadequacy, then, we can but note that to Flush Italy, in these the fullest, the freest, the happiest years of his life, meant mainly a succession of smells. Love, it must be supposed, was gradually losing its appeal. Smell remained. Now that they were established in Casa Guidi again, all had their avocations. Mr. Browning wrote regularly in one room; Mrs. Browning wrote regularly in another. The baby played in the nursery. But Flush wandered off into the streets of Florence to enjoy the rapture of smell. He threaded his path through main streets and back streets, through squares and alleys, by smell. He nosed his way from smell to smell; the rough, the smooth, the dark, the golden. He went in and out, up and down, where they beat brass, where they bake bread, where the women sit combing their hair, where the bird-cages are piled high on the causeway, where the wine spills itself in dark red stains on the pavement, where leather smells and harness and garlic, where cloth is beaten, where vine leaves tremble, where men sit and drink and spit and dice — he ran in and out, always with his nose to the ground, drinking in the essence; or with his nose in the air vibrating with the aroma. He slept in this hot patch of sun — how sun made the stone reek! he sought that tunnel of shade — how acid shade made the stone smell! He devoured whole bunches of ripe grapes largely because of their purple smell; he chewed and spat out whatever tough relic of goat or macaroni the Italian housewife had thrown from the balcony — goat and macaroni were raucous smells, crimson smells. 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. Nor was his sense of touch much less acute. He knew Florence in its marmoreal smoothness and in its gritty and cobbled roughness. Hoary folds of drapery, smooth fingers and feet of stone received the lick of his tongue, the quiver of his shivering snout. Upon the infinitely sensitive pads of his feet he took the clear stamp of proud Latin inscriptions. In short, he knew Florence as no human being has ever known it; as Ruskin never knew it or George Eliot either.” 4 likes
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