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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.

204 pages, Paperback

First published October 1, 1933

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About the author

Virginia Woolf

1,275 books21.4k followers
(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 essay A Room of One's Own (1929) with its famous dictum, "a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction."

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,011 reviews
Profile Image for Dolors.
518 reviews2,141 followers
August 30, 2017
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
Profile Image for Fionnuala.
767 reviews
December 18, 2019
..the Victorians loved biographies, especially biographies of eminent people such as 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.

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..
Profile Image for Magrat Ajostiernos.
549 reviews3,755 followers
April 7, 2020
Un relato corto divertido, ingenioso y tierno.
Los que temen la pluma de esta autora harían bien en darle una oportunidad a 'Flush', una obra que demuestra la maestría de Woolf y que carece de la complejidad de otras de sus obras más conocidas.
La historia cuenta a modo de biografía la vida de Flush, el cocker spaniel de la escritora victoriana Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
Es un libro plagado de humor y de detalles de la vida y costumbres de la época.
Recomiendo encarecidamente la edición ilustrada por Iratxe López de Munáin de Lumen, es una maravilla :3
Profile Image for Paul.
1,146 reviews1,909 followers
December 15, 2019
4.5 stars
This, on the surface is an oddity: a biography of a dog, Elizabeth Barrett’s cocker spaniel, Flush. It is a stream of consciousness novella, written straight after The Waves. Inevitably, because of the subject matter it is treated as a less serious work. Woolf certainly worried about it:
“I open this to make one of my self-admonishments previous to publishing a book. Flush will be out on Thursday and I shall be very much depressed, I think, by the kind of praise. They’ll say it’s ‘charming,’ delicate, ladylike … I must not let myself believe that I’m simply a ladylike prattler.”
Woolf felt that the point she was making would not be understood and said so to her friend Sybil Colfax when she appreciated the novel:
“I’m so glad that you liked Flush. I think it shows great discrimination in you because it was all a matter of hints and shades, and practically no one has seen what I was after.”
There are a number of themes addressed by Woolf. One of these is class, Flush is a pedigree dog whose antecedents are approved by the kennel club and who is above other mongrel dogs. He knows this, but over time he changes, through experience, and begins to realize that he is no different from the dogs on the street.
It is also by its nature a commentary on the life of Barrett both before and after her involvement with Browning. Woolf’s obsession with London and its various glories and horrors also takes centre stage.
Woolf scholar Jane Goldman makes some interesting points about Flush. It needs to be noted that although Barrett herself was an abolitionist, her family wealth came from plantations in Jamaica. The point is made that the collars and chains Flush wears can be seen as referencing those worn by slaves. A walk along Wimpole Street is seen as a slave arriving in a new country:
“he stopped, amazed: defining and savouring until a jerk at his collar dragged him on”
Flush has a previous existence in the country before he was given to Barrett:
“the old hunting cry of the fields hallooed in his ears and he dashed forward to run as he had run in the fields at home … But now a heavy weight jerked at his throat; he was thrown back on his haunches. Why was he a prisoner here?”
Flush was also intended to parody Lytton Strachey’s work on Queen Victoria. In addition there is the more obvious point that dogs were considered property in the same way that women were and are and links are drawn between the tyrannies each suffer. There’s plenty of sharp social comment here, although Woolf’s worries that it might be dismissed as sweet and sentimental; which given the attitude of the English towards animals was probably a credible worry.
There is a philosophical element to Flush as well, consider the problem of what is real:
“Then she would make him stand with her in front of the looking-glass and ask him why he barked and trembled. Was not the little brown dog opposite himself? But what is ’oneself’? Is it the thing people see? Or is it the thing one is? So Flush pondered that question too, and, unable to solve the problem of reality, pressed closer to Miss Barrett and kissed her ’expressively’. That was real at any rate.”
There are recollections of Proust and collective memory:
“Then with all her poet’s imagination Miss Barrett could not divine what Wilson’s wet umbrella meant to Flush; what memories it recalled, of forests and parrots and wild trumpeting elephants; nor did she know, when Mr Kenyon stumbled over the bell-pull, that Flush heard dark men cursing in the mountains; the cry, ‘Span! Span!’ rang in his ears, and it was in some muffled, ancestral rage that he bit him.”
As there usually is with Woolf, there is much more going on than meets the eye and I suspect a second reading will be required. It can be read as a rather cute biography of a dog as Woolf feared: but it really is so much more than that.
Profile Image for Luís.
1,793 reviews431 followers
February 1, 2023
My first Virginia Woolf on a dog biography, Wouaf!
Flush is a spaniel living in England in the 19th century. From Miss Mitford to Miss Barret, he finds happiness in the look his mistress has on him, unwelcome lover or baby. And even if his instincts are suddenly reduced to a domesticated space, it doesn't matter to him; he makes it his flash. A doggie what, you will tell me.
The novel surfs on the ambivalence of the gaze focused on the world. Is it that of a human, a dog, or a humanized dog? "Certainly, the biographer would be happy to infer from this that Flush's life was only a series of orgy beyond description and to write only if the baby, each day catching a new word on the fly, pushed further away of him, the naive reality, the fate of Flush, on the contrary, was to remain in a paradise where the essences are preserved in their supreme purity and where the nakedness of things is immediately imprinted on the nakedness of the nerves: unfortunately it would be false."
Written on the stroke of fatigue, to relax after the grueling ride of the "waves" but also to parody the successful biographies of the time, this Flush takes on the appearance of a winning poker shot.
High-level writing makes me want to know more about the author.
Profile Image for Duane.
828 reviews388 followers
December 11, 2016
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.
Profile Image for AiK.
438 reviews77 followers
November 4, 2022
В аннотации к повести использован эпитет «очаровательная», и это справедливо. Казалось бы, книга о домашнем любимце должна содержать информацию в основном о его жизни. Но, как сквозь пресловутый хрустальный шар, в отражении его судьбы читатель видит и срез жизни разных слоев общества в викторианской Англии, как в ее чопорных, богатых кварталах, так и полных опасностей трущобах по соседству, и свободную и счастливую жизнь обеспеченных англичан в напоённой солнцем Италии. Книга, как говорится, атмосферна, хоть и не люблю это затасканное в рецензиях слово. Вулф остроумно и искрометно высмеивает те или иные пороки общества – снобизм высших классов, иерархичность общества, которое даже переходит на собак, повальное увлечение спиритизмом и предсказаниями на хрустальных шарах, поэтов, различающих только два запаха – роз и навоза, и даже повадки слуг. Она изобличает кошмар владельцев собак тех лет – воровство домашних любимцев, вымогательство и ужасающий конец для тех, кто отказался платить или осмелился оспорить условия выкупа, так же она осудила лицемерие и скупость, когда все члены семьи высокопарными речами фактически отказались от Флаша. Она очаровывает нас, придавая Флашу способность чувствовать и думать, как люди, и тем не менее обонять этот мир по-собачьи. Особенно хорошо описание привольной жизни пса в Италии. Вулф писала эту повесть, взяв за основу письма Элизабет Браунинг, поэтессы и супруги Роберта Браунинга. К сожалению, до этой повести, эти имена были мне незнакомы.
Profile Image for Chrissie.
2,651 reviews1,485 followers
January 1, 2023
I’ve wanted to read this for years, but I refused to read an abridged version which was all that was available to me at Audible. Hurrah! I found it now at Legimus, a site in Sweden for those with bad vision. Lucky me!

Now I’ve read the book, and I totally love it! I think a person’s rating depends on that person’s personality and experiences. Since these vary for each one of us, even good friends will react differently to any given book. The conclusion I draw is that any book I have rated with either four or five stars is worth your reading. It is the personal that tips the scale from four to five and it is the personal that will never be the same for each of us. A three-star book is a book I do like, even if I also see possibilities for improvement.

Now to this marvelous book!

Virginia Woolf gives us here a double biography. We learn about the 19th century author Elisabeth Barrett Browning and her beloved cocker spaniel, Flush. E.B.B. is of course the wife of poet Robert Browning. The story is a marvelous mix of fact and fiction. Fact because the details about the author, her husband, her dog as well as the places (Berkshire, London, Pisa and Florence) and the times are meticulously and accurately described. It is Flush who is telling us the tale. It is this that is the fictional element, and it is this that makes the book so terribly fun, creative and imaginative. We are privy to Flush’s thoughts. We see the world through his eyes. No, in fact it is though his nose that the world is discovered and perceived, of course!

AND Virginia Woolf knows how to tell a good story. She finds the right words and the right phrases! There is lots here that is funny. The themes covered are wide in scope. Philosophical, psychological, political and social norms are put under a lens. That which Woolf has given us here is accurate, imaginative, funny and serious -- all at the same time! This is a work of art! Just my point of view of course.

I love what Woolf is saying about the value of independence and freedom, her protest against conventional attitudes, her jokes about the Kennel Club, her digs at aristocracy and her poem about the love between a person and their canine companion.

The audiobook I listened to is narrated by Bibi Nordin. The version I listened to is translated into Swedish. Never does she overdramatize. One empathizes as one listens. I hope I will run into more books narrated by Bibi!

Talk about wonderful—five stars for both the written text and the narration! Quite a few hours of pure enjoyment I have spent with this! Don’t miss this book by Woolf, but do NOT even consider the abridged version sold at Audible. You want to hear every word. You do not want to hear only half of Woolf’s words. You want every bit of it, including all the interesting and informative notes!


*Flush 5 stars
*Mrs. Dalloway 4 stars
*Jacob's Room 4 stars
*The Years 4 stars
*Between the Acts 3 stars
*The Voyage Out 3 stars
*The Mark on the Wall 3 stars
*Night and Day 3 stars
*To the Lighthouse 3 stars
*Kew Gardens 3 stars
*The Waves 1 star
*A Room of One's Own 1 star
*Orlando maybe

Also of interest for dog lovers and readers unable to get their hands on an unabridged version of Flush: Shaggy Muses: The Dogs Who Inspired Emily Brontë, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Emily Dickinson, Edith Wharton, and Virginia Woolf 3 stars
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
1,966 reviews1,386 followers
June 21, 2021
This is the semi-fictional biography of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's beloved Spaniel, Flush. Told partially through his eyes, this details the events of his life, that of his owner's, and gives an insight to the society surrounding them. This story was as adorable as it was heart-breaking and provided a vivid and unique rendering of one small pup's life and the insurmountable amount of love he had to give the world.
Profile Image for Roman Clodia.
2,359 reviews2,297 followers
September 19, 2022
But the dogs of London, Flush soon discovered, are strictly divided into different classes. Some are chained dogs; some run wild. Some take their airings in carriages and drink from purple jars; others are unkempt and uncollared and pick up a living in the gutter.

While this is often categorised as a charming little amusement, a frivolous indulgence after the work to finish The Waves, I'm not sure that Woolf was ever able to write anything that wasn't a) expressed in delicate, exquisite prose; and b) that wasn't shot through with her unstoppable intelligence and intellectual curiosity.

Well known as her retelling of the story of Elizabeth Barrett Browning via her spaniel, Flush, this is alight with witty anthropomorphism such as the opening genealogy of Flush whose family 'is one of the greatest antiquity'. The sly 'the family from which the subject of this memoir claims descent (my emphasis), immediately sets the tone and recalls many a human in life and literature whose ancestral claims might not quite stand up to investigative vigour.

Woolf gets, metaphorically, down on her hands and knees to offer up a world viewed from about calf level and makes much of the olfactory nature of a dog's world. It's a stellar performance in depicting an oblique view of conventional Victorian life.

But this story, for all its charm, also has important connections to the themes Woolf revisited repeatedly in her work: the portrait of an intellectual writing woman confined by a patriarchy that doesn't have a lot of room for her; the struggle against a father; the way writing can form a type of escape - for Barrett Browning not just a mental flight but the route to an actual elopement with Robert Browning.

So delightful, for sure, and a nice antidote to those who think Woolf had no sense of humour - but oddly serious at the same time.
Profile Image for Classic reverie.
1,303 reviews
June 7, 2019
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


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 ! "
Profile Image for WhatIReallyRead.
662 reviews488 followers
July 16, 2019
Flush by Virginia Woolf - Oxford World's Classics series

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.
Profile Image for Margarita Garova.
407 reviews160 followers
December 25, 2020
“Истинският философ е онзи, който е изгубил козината си, но се е отървал от бълхите.”

Вирджиния Улф си остава непоправимият модернист, дори когато разказва пише биографията на един шпаньол! И как го прави само – цялата богата сетивност на тази книга минава през душата и възприятията на чувствителния четириног Флъш.

Вирджиния Улф написва книгата като свеобразен творчески отдих, но и тук не е успяла да се спаси от собствения си гений. Читателят напълно влиза в кожата на кучето, а кучето е по човешки одухотворено. Специалистите наричат това “онтологична метафора”, за мен това е великата дарба на Улф да създава необикновени светове.

1842 г., Флъш е симпатично кутре, което скита на воля из полята на Рединг, докато не го подаряват на обездвижена млада жена, чийто свят се изчерпва в спалня на улица “Уимпъл”, номер 50, в Лондон. Младата жена е една от най-добрите поетеси на епохата – Елизабет Барет. И така, шпаньолът заменя полудивата среда с кадифето на богатия дом. Придобива навиците на изнежен любимец от заможните класи, докато инстинктите му на волноскитащ постепенно закърняват.

В книгата присъстват автентични цитати от писма на поетесата, които ни осветляват за реакциите на милото животно към важните промени в живота на неговата стопанка - ухажването на Робърт Браунинг, живота в Италия, бебето Робърт. Останалото е предоставено на фантазията на Вирджиния Улф, която е обожавала животните.

В отношенията човек-куче има една почти трагична липса на реципрочност. Нашият свят е богат на много елементи; за домашните ни любимци този свят сме ние. И това не винаги трябва да ни ласкае, защото те усещат и леките дефицити на внимание и обич.

Просто няма как да не отбележа, че като книжно тяло “Флъш” е истински празник за окото – т��ърди корици, великолепни и подробни илюстрации, качествена хартия. Преводът – разбира се, е на Иглика Василева, нужно ли е да се добавя повече. Илюстрациите на испанката Ираче Лопес де Мунаин спират погледа за по-дълго от обичайното – индийските шалове на Елизабет, мраморните бюстове на Омир и Скот, махагоновия скрин, библиотеката и арфата са изобразени с наситени цветове и плавни контури. Самият Флъш е очарователно стилизиран и даже леко плюшен.

Получих книгата като коледен подарък, прочетох я в паузите между суетенето в кухнята и наистина почувствах онази празничност, която все ми се изплъзва през този период. Може би единственият по-хубав подарък от тази книга би бил истински шпаньол.
Profile Image for Michael.
1,094 reviews1,475 followers
March 1, 2013
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”
Profile Image for Daniel Archer.
54 reviews23 followers
December 15, 2020
What a lovely surprise this turned out to be. Prior to reading, have a look at Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “To Flush, My Dog”:

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.


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.

Based on 2 poems Barrett Browning wrote about her dog Flush, Woolf imagines the life of the dog who gives up everything - sunlight, open fields, chasing rabbits - to stay by his master’s side.

Through Flush’s story, Woolf delivers an impressionistic, stream-of-consciousness meditation that encompasses many preoccupations seen throughout her writing - the life of female writers, the peculiarities of city life, democracy, freedom, British identity.

Best read with just a bit of knowledge of Woolf and Barrett Browning - and with your dog at your side.
Profile Image for Vanessa.
285 reviews714 followers
September 19, 2022
Flush is completely different from what Virginia Woolf used to write. She knew that too, and declared to have written it for mere fun (and as a response to the popularity of biographies). So, first of all, this is written as if it was a biography: not of a human, but of a dog. This is also set in Victorian England, never done before by the author, with Woolf recreating the atmosphere of London and its traditions - beautifully done, in my opinion: not too much historical informations and not too little. For such a small book, the perfect quantity. And then, no stream of consciousness, so this is way more "regular" than her other books.

Through the eyes of Flush, we get to know the story of Elizabeth Barrett Browning and her relationship with Robert Browning. All of the informations and facts we read about are taken by Elizabeth's correspondence, therefore everything we read is quite true - beyond Flush's thoughts and feelings, of course. But who is Flush? He is Elizabeth's beloved Spaniel who serves as a comparison to her. They are very similar to each other, physically and mentally.

Woolf wrote as if she was in a dialogue with the poet but she also was the dog, and dogs are correlative to the experience of women and their gender roles. For instance, Flush was Miss Mitford's dog at first, a writer who was under her father's monopoly and never got rid of it; she gives the dog to her new friend, Miss Barrett, following her depressive state after her brother's death, and even she is kept "captive" by her father. Women and dogs are both captive of men, prisoners who have to obey and follow rules decided by men. But Elizabeth rebels, finds her freedom, and gives it to Flush too.

Besides Woolf creating a story to parallel her beliefs, this is also a cute, heartwarming story of the love that exists between dogs and human beings. If you have had dogs in your life, or other animals (I've grown up with two dogs and now own a gorgeous, beautiful, sweet cat), you will feel full of love. A delightful read that eased my current worries, so charming!
Profile Image for Pia G..
99 reviews59 followers
April 24, 2022
köpekleri çok sevdiğimden ötürü köpeklerle ilgili olan her şeyi ister istemez seviyorum 🤭 bu kitapta da öyle oldu, yer yer mutlulukla okudum yer yerse hüzünlendim - özellikle 4. bölümdeki olaylarda, bir an oraları geçesim geldi.
Profile Image for Debbie Zapata.
1,731 reviews26 followers
August 12, 2021
Aug 11, 1pm ~~ Review asap. This was lovely!!

Aug 12, 1pm ~~ Virginia Woolf has been very bad for my book budget. Since July I have been reading her books as part of a group challenge which lasts to the end of September. Thanks to how much I have enjoyed her work so far, I was forced to order used copies of other Woolf titles and now thanks to this particular book I was once again forced to order after I swore No More. I will get to what I ordered in a minute, but first I want to say that if you need a mental break from the stress of current events, Flush is the perfect book to choose.

I have my Woolf titles in a pile on my desk ready to read from top to bottom. But the day it was time to start a new one my little brain was fried and I did not feel up to the top volume. So I chose this book and I am so glad I did. It was charming. Forgive me for using a word VW dreaded would be used about the book, but it is a perfect word for the book.

My edition has an introduction explaining that VW wrote Flush right after finishing The Waves, as a kind of brain clearing exercise. I have learned in the past not to read any introduction to Woolf's work since they tend to spoil the plot but since I knew a little about Flush already I went ahead and zipped through the intro, just skipping the sections of quoted passages.

There really was a Flush, of course. He belonged to Elizabeth Barrett Browning and was a part of her life at the time she met Robert Browning. As the introduction explains:
"The story is a perfect vehicle for Virginia's vein of fancy ~~ who but she would have thought of telling the love story of two poets through the eyes of a spaniel?"

Woolf does not make the dog seem human, like so many authors would have done. Flush is very much a dog throughout the book, but such a living breathing, experiencing dog that it seems the reader could reach out and pat his head. Woolf's attention to detail, or rather her ability to notice details that most authors would never think of in a million years helps bring the dog to life. and he is always a dog, not a little person in a dog suit. So the book never becomes too cute for itself, it is always....well, charming.

Flush is not the only being we become acquainted with in these pages. We meet Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning and come to know them also. Which brings me to my most recent forced book order. VW quotes letters between the two, at least the ones that mention Flush. But she shows us so clearly how important Robert's letters were to Elizabeth right from the beginning of their correspondence that she created in this reader the need to read the letters more completely. So I have ordered The Courtship Correspondence 1845-1846 and am looking forward to filling in the gaps of my knowledge about this romantic couple who had so many things to say to each other right from the beginning and seemed never to lose their ability to communicate.

Now back to Flush. It is both a novel and the story of a real animal, and it is delightful. If you have ever considered reading Virginia Woolf but have been reluctant, by all means begin with this book. You will get a taste of her talent without being overwhelmed by what you might have heard about her all of your life.

Profile Image for Ronald Morton.
408 reviews149 followers
April 4, 2016
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.
Profile Image for Kyriakos Sorokkou.
Author 6 books190 followers
August 2, 2019


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
Profile Image for Yani.
412 reviews171 followers
January 12, 2014
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 fino sarcasmo, también comenta qué sucede con la aristocracia humana. Flush va a ser adoptado por Elizabeth y la relación entre ellos va a fluctuar entre el amor y el odio. Por supuesto, el que siempre permanece fiel y olvida las peleas más rápido es el perro.

Amé este libro por muchas razones. Creo que es casi innecesario decir que Woolf escribe y describe todo con una forma tan particular y tan admirable que vuelve difícil que uno abandone la lectura. Por más mínimo que sea el tema que esté tratando, ella lo agiganta y le da belleza, pero también sabe lidiar con cuestiones tan complicadas como la pobreza. La combinación de las vidas de la mascota y de su dueña me resultó subrepticia e interesante, al igual que la sensación de que Barrett Browning fue una mujer intensa, algo que me dejó con muchas ganas de leerla, a pesar de que en algunas ocasiones me cayó mal, como autora y como persona (refiriéndome a su correspondencia). A la vez, los datos sobre otros personajes involucrados en la historia son imperdibles.

En conclusión, Flush es un libro (y un perro) precioso que apunta a la sensibilidad que siempre despiertan los animales, con un trasfondo demasiado humano e imposible de ignorar. Y puedo afirmar que me pareció ideal para conocer y acercarme a Barrett Browning por un camino poco convencional.
Profile Image for Flybyreader.
626 reviews149 followers
September 1, 2020
“To be nothing - is that not, after all, the most satisfactory state in the whole world?”

Woolf’s genius resurfaces once again with an awe-inspiring biography. If you read and loved Orlando, an amazing jaw-dropping fake-biography, you will absolutely fall for Flush, a spanial trying to attribute meaning to life. The biography of Flush revolves around her owner Miss Mitford, a later Mrs. Browning and how their relationship buckles and bends with a myriad of emotions. We observe human society and relationships through the eyes of Flush. An incredible reading journey written in the unique style of Woolf:

“Things are not simple but complex. If he bit Mr. Browning he bit her, too. Hatred is not hatred; hatred is also love.”
Profile Image for Teresa.
1,492 reviews
May 21, 2015
Nos seus diários, Virginia Woolf diz que escreveu Flush como forma de um "apaziguado entretenimento", que lhe permitiu descansar do esforço exigido por As Ondas e conceber o romance seguinte - Os Anos.
Talvez por a entrega da autora não ser em pleno, esta leitura não me tivesse deslumbrado. Direi mesmo que, se não tivesse tão presentes na memória e no coração duas das suas obras-primas, pensaria que ler Virginia Woolf não é nada de especial e talvez nem a lesse mais.
No entanto, embora sem o arrebatamento dos anteriores, gostei deste livro; porque aprendi um pouco sobre a vida da poetisa Elizabeth Barrett Browning e me enterneci com a história de Flush, o cocker spaniel que a acompanhou nas fases mais importantes da sua vida. Talvez mais ainda porque também eu, há muitos anos, tive a ventura de amar e ser amada por um cocker spaniel - uns seres maravilhosos, meigos, inteligentes e de uma dedicação sem limites aos seus donos - e esta leitura ofereceu-me a alegria de o recordar, embora com muita saudade.
Obrigada Virginia.

(James Edwin McConnell, "Elizabeth Barrett Browning and her cocker spaniel Flush")
Profile Image for Aida Lopez.
400 reviews68 followers
May 3, 2020
Virginia Woolf que genia!!!.

Lo que he disfrutado con esta novela corta.

📚Flush ,un cocker spaniel muy aristocrático,nos deja adentramos en su intimidad,sus sentimientos y como no el amor por su dueña ,que no es otra que la poetisa Elizabeth Browning.

📚La novela nos lleva a un Londres Victoriano de grandes contrastes y diferencias de clases .

También a la alegre y soleada Italia .Y es que nuestro perrito es muy viajero .

📚En una palabra es un libro :Entrañable.

📚No os cuento más porque es cortito y no quiero que dejéis de disfrutarlo ,tenéis que acompañar a Flush una tarde ,es lo que se tarda en leerlo,es una joyita.
Profile Image for Eylül Görmüş.
285 reviews1,331 followers
August 19, 2021
Aşırı tatlı kitap. Woolf'un bu neşeli ve eğlenceli eserlerini çok daha fazla seviyorum. (Orlando gibi, mesela.) Flush adlı bir köpeğin biyografisini okuyoruz gibi gözükse de aslında sınıf meselesi, dönemin Avrupası, elbette ki kadın olmak gibi konuları da didikliyor Woolf arka planda. Seni çok sevdim güzel Flush. ❤️
Profile Image for Jesse.
434 reviews395 followers
July 16, 2015
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.
Profile Image for Maria.
107 reviews822 followers
October 31, 2022
"Broken asunder, yet made in the same mould, each, perhaps, completed what was dormant in the other."

as someone who loves dogs and animals in general exceedingly, i knew reading Flush's biography written by Woolf would be setting myself up to cry, but still, i decided to do it.

this is a beautiful testimony of the companionship that is the relationship between a dog and their owner. this is a tiny book based on Elizabeth Barrett's poems and writings - the owner of Flush, that packs so much emotion and life.
Virginia portrays the cluelessness of a dog regarding what their humans are doing in such a wholesome way (how they don't understand what is going on at first but can sense the change in expression and behavior), while still inspiring so much depth in their true whole dedication, love, and meaning of their life...
there was a beautiful balance between the being a dog mundane tasks, like enjoying the sun, running, hunting, being scolded, getting old, and their deep deep and pure emotion.

"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. But things are not simple but complex. If he bit Mr. Browning he bit her too. Hatred is not hatred; hatred is also love. Here Flush shook his ears in an agony of perplexity. He turned uneasily on the floor. Mr. Browning was Miss Barrett–Miss Barrett was Mr. Browning; love is hatred and hatred is love."

"Now Flush knew what men can never know–love pure, love simple, love entire; love that brings no train of care in its wake; that has no shame; no remorse; that is here, that is gone, as the bee on the flower is here and is gone. Today the flower is a rose, tomorrow a lily; now it is the wild thistle on the moor, now the pouched and portentous orchid of the conservatory. So variously, so carelessly Flush embraced the spotted spaniel down the alley, and the brindled dog and the yellow dog–it did not matter which. To Flush it was all the same. He followed the horn wherever the horn blew and the wind wafted it. Love was all; love was enough."


"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."

"But what is 'oneself'? Is it the thing people see? Or is it the thing one is? So Flush pondered that question too, and, unable to solve the problem of reality, pressed closer to Miss Barrett and kissed her 'expressively'.
That was real at any rate."

and also infusing the story with social commentary!

"As Robert Browning snipped, as the insignia of a cocker spaniel fell to the floor, as the travesty of quite a different animal rose round his neck, 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?"

"As he raced over the grass “like emeralds” with “the pheasants all alive and flying,” Flush suddenly bethought him of Regent’s Park and its proclamation: Dogs must be led on chains. Where was “must” now? Where were chains now? Where were park-keepers and truncheons? Gone, with the dog-stealers and Kennel Clubs and Spaniel Clubs of a corrupt aristocracy! Gone with four-wheelers and hansom cabs! with Whitechapel and Shoreditch! He ran, he raced; his coat flashed; his eyes blazed. He was the friend of all the world now. All dogs were his brothers."

💗💗💗 just beautiful...
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