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 experienceOh 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 darkly, 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 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 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 4.
5 starsThis, 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 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 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 than that.
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 Do words say everything Can words say anything Do not words destroy the symbol that lies beyond the reach of words Virginia Woolf Flush 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 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 DogBY ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNINGLOVING friend, the gift of one,Who, her own true faith, hath run,Through thy lower nature Be my benediction saidWith my hand upon thy head,Gentle fellow creature Like a lady s ringlets brown,Flow thy silken ears adownEither side demurely,Of thy silver suited breastShining out from all the restOf thy body purely.
Darkly brown thy body is,Till the sunshine, striking this,Alchemize its dulness, When the sleek curls manifoldFlash all over into gold,With a burnished fulness.
Underneath my stroking hand,Startled eyes of hazel blandKindling, 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 thineFlicker strangely, fair and fine,Down their golden inchesYet, my pretty sportive friend,Little is t to such an endThat I praise thy rareness Other dogs may be thy peersHaply in these drooping ears,And this glossy fairness.
But of thee it shall be said,This dog watched beside a bedDay and night unweary, Watched within a curtained room,Where no sunbeam brake the gloomRound 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 dewTracked the hares and followed throughSunny moor or meadow This dog only, crept and creptNext a languid cheek that slept,Sharing in the shadow.
Other dogs of loyal cheerBounded at the whistle clear,Up the woodside hieing This dog only, watched in reachOf a faintly uttered speech,Or a louder sighing.
And if one or two quick tearsDropped 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 chinOn the palm left open.
This dog, if a friendly voiceCall him now to blyther choiceThan 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 saidTherefore, and for ever.
And because he loves me so,Better than his kind will doOften, man or woman,Give I back love againThan 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 failNever, 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 theeCologne distillations Nuts lie in thy path for stones,And thy feast day macaroonsTurn to daily rations Mock I thee, in wishing weal Tears are in my eyes to feelThou art made so straightly,Blessing needs must straighten too, Little canst thou joy or do,Thou who lovest greatly.
Yet be blessed to the heightOf all good and all delightPervious to thy nature, Only loved beyond that line,With a love that answers thine,Loving fellow creature Dogs are color blind.
2018Rereading 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 2012A good story We lost our rescued Doberman yesterday to heart failure so a dog book seemed in order.
Flush is a biography of a dog To be 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 , since I like their layouts, covers, and composition.
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 view spoiler Doesn t Elizabeth look a bit like a spaniel hide spoiler 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.