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Flush (Oxford World's Classics) [Paperback]

Virginia Woolf , Kate Flint
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
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Book Description

26 Mar 2009 Oxford World's Classics
'I lay in the garden and red the Browning love letters, and the figure of their dog made me laugh so I couldn't resist making him a Life.'

Throughout her career, Woolf invokes the animal world both directly and metaphorically. She started to write a biography of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's spaniel after finishing The Waves, tracing the life of the spaniel from his country origins, his puppyhood spent with the writer Mary Mitford, through his sheltered existence with Elizabeth Barrett in her sick room, and later travels in Florence. But Flush is much more than a playful writer's holiday. As well as offering an exploration of a life of the senses free from the tyranny of words, Flush can be read as an allegorical testimony to the inscrutable, discarded, unrepresentable lives of the Victorian women poets, who were barely discussed or read in the 1930s. From a quite literally low point of view, Woolf explores class and gender in Victorian London, with gently mocking humour. Charming yet also radical, Flush is a work of sensuous imagination, an apparently light text that opens up a range of questions concerning difference which are woven through the whole of Woolf's writing.
ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.

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Flush (Oxford World's Classics) + The Voyage Out (Oxford World's Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks (26 Mar 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199539294
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199539291
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 46,281 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Virginia Woolf is now recognized as a major twentieth-century author, a great novelist and essayist and a key figure in literary history as a feminist and a modernist. Born in 1882, she was the daughter of the editor and critic Leslie Stephen, and suffered a traumatic adolescence after the deaths of her mother, in 1895, and her step-sister Stella, in 1897, leaving her subject to breakdowns for the rest of her life. Her father died in 1904 and two years later her favourite brother Thoby died suddenly of typhoid.

With her sister, the painter Vanessa Bell, she was drawn into the company of writers and artists such as Lytton Strachey and Roger Fry, later known as the Bloomsbury Group. Among them she met Leonard Woolf, whom she married in 1912, and together they founded the Hogarth Press in 1917, which was to publish the work of T. S. Eliot, E. M. Forster and Katherine Mansfield as well as the earliest translations of Freud. Woolf lived an energetic life among friends and family, reviewing and writing, and dividing her time between London and the Sussex Downs. In 1941, fearing another attack of mental illness, she drowned herself.

Her first novel, The Voyage Out, appeared in 1915, and she then worked through the transitional Night and Day (1919) to the highly experimental and impressionistic Jacob's Room (1922). From then on her fiction became a series of brilliant and extraordinarily varied experiments, each one searching for a fresh way of presenting the relationship between individual lives and the forces of society and history. She was particularly concerned with women's experience, not only in her novels but also in her essays and her two books of feminist polemic, A Room of One's Own (1929) and Three Guineas (1938).

Her major novels include Mrs Dalloway (1925), the historical fantasy Orlando (1928), written for Vita Sackville-West, the extraordinarily poetic vision of The Waves (1931), the family saga of The Years (1937), and Between the Acts (1941). All these are published by Penguin, as are her Diaries, Volumes I-V, and selections from her essays and short stories.

Product Description


"A most triumphant trespassing of human imagination into dog sensibilities... The result is a book of irresistible grace and charm" (Spectator)

"A masterpiece... It is not fiction because it has the substance, the reality of truth. It is not biography because it has the freedom, the artistry of fiction" (New York Herald Tribune Books) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

A lively and touching biography of the cocker spaniel given to Elizabeth Barrett Browning by Mary Russell Mitford. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime 3 Sep 2008
Virginia Woolf's fictional biography of Flush the spaniel must make him the most famous dog in literature. Flush was Elizabeth Barrett Browning's beloved cocker spaniel, and she herself wrote two poems about him.

Poor Flush has to contend with being dog-napped, having to accept Robert Browning into his life and then the Browning's baby. He travels form London to Italy, making him a well traveled pooch, also he has to endure the Spiritualist craze of the time.

This book gives you an insight into Elizabeth Barrett Browning's life and the love she had for her dog, as well as a dog's view of living with humans. Definitely the lightest of Woolf's works this is also possibly the most accessible. If you have never read Virginia Woolf before this is a good book to make you acquainted with her work. If you are fans of her books you will love this. This book also includes the original illustrations and Margaret Forster's introduction gives an insight into Flush and his effect on Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A new view of The Brownings 4 Feb 2009
What a lovely book. It gives the dogs view of the world it lives in. It is the dog of Elizabeth Browning and a truly delightful book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nicely-imagined but too cute for me 30 April 2013
By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER
"Had the Kennel Club, then, no jurisdiction in Italy?... He was the only pure-bred cocker spaniel in the whole of Pisa"

This is probably Woolf at her most playful as she imagines a 'biography' for Flush, Elizabeth Barrett-Browning's dog. Told from Flush's point of view, this follows his introduction in the Barrett household, the advent of Robert Browning and the move to Italy... from a dog's viewpoint.

I have to admit that I found this all a bit too cute for my tastes. We certainly might read Flush as a symbol for other groups excluded from, and yet existing on the margins of, nineteenth-century upper middle-class life, such as the personal maids who served women like Elizabeth Barrett, but the 'dogginess' of this didn't really work for me (maybe I'm too much of a cat person?)

Others have clearly loved this - but if you're looking for an accessible way into Woolf, I would recommend Orlando over this.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forster, Browning and Flush 18 April 2009
An unusual Woolf and unputdownable. Understands a dog's sensibilities like Mark Doty in Dog Years. Interesting Forward by Margaret Forster, who wrote Lady's Maid, Life of Elizabeth B Browning, and which includes much about Flush also, of course. All three books "Must Reads" for dog lovers!
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