First published in 1933, Flush is the story of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s cocker spaniel. Although Flush has adventures of his own, he is also the means of providing us with glimpses into the life of his owner and her days at Wimpole Street as an invalid, her courtship by Robert Browning, their elopement and life together in Italy. (from Goodreads)
I bought this book blindly. I’ve been reading now and then some works from Woolf through the last couple of years so when this one crossed my path I didn’t think twice. There was nothing in the title that gave me a hint of its content, and there was no synopsis or abstract of any kind in the back cover. I opened the book just enough to see it seemed to be some kind of novel and that was that. As soon as I started reading it and realized it was about a dog I thought “Ughh, I hope he has a good life and doesn’t die horribly”. Spoiler alert: he has and he doesn’t.
I’m not used to read novels written from the point of view of real animals (not anthropomorphized versions), and when I do I tend to constantly think “Do my pets feel or felt like this?”. I look at my dog, she’s a senior now, and spends most of her time just laying here and there, trying to keep herself cool or warm through the seasons. How was the domestication process for her? How do pets learn and understand us? When did my cat stopped being a fuzzy vindictive little demon and became a furry napping ball that learned to ask me to pick her up? Or did she taught me? Why my other cat doesn’t like me? Why does she likes my brother more? What does she sees in me?
Did Virginia Woolf understand dogs in a way that I don’t? She wrote this to be so believable. Or is it that she just put into words what we all want to believe about dogs’ thinking process?
This book was so lovely to read. Sure, Flush goes through some tough moments, but no more than any other main character in any novel.
I think there’s not much to say about this. Talking about each piece would be a never ending story. I had a lot of favorites in this collection. Sometimes, her characters talked or felt the exact same things that I do, although she expressed these thoughts in a much beautiful way that I’d ever could (of course she did). And I like to remark this, because I believe is the first time that I could fully recognize myself in fictional characters. I guess she really understood my kind (introverted people).
This book contains several random works of her, some of them were previously published in journals and such, others were conferences, other were never published before. Originally, this book came out after her death, organized and directed by her husband.
Most of the essays are critic or reviews that she did of other books, and I’ve read none of those. Still, those writings aren’t hard or heavy to read and, if anything, make me want to get those books. What called my attention is that many of those books were about famous writers’ correspondence, and Woolf often discuss about their writing style, which made me think about my style and whatever we normally do while penpalling. It was definitely helpful and inspiring. Most of the time I spent reading this book I was at the train or the metro, and always regretted not having a pencil to underline fragments, and often made me think that I had to show this to this friend or that other friend.
I highly recommend this book, just to have a glimpse of her great, clear and sincere writing style.
One of the things I loved from this book is that Virgina Woolf accomplishes for her characters something I always wanted to do for myself: being able to record every single one of my thoughts in a certain moment. There’s very little dialogue written in this novel, and everything that happens is seen from inside the head of the characters. The whole novel occurs in one day, the one of Clarissa Dalloway’s party, but the reader is constantly taken from the present to the past and back, reading into the people’s thoughts and being able to reconstruct the story and the reasons of their present behaviors and personalities.