Woolf's biography of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's spaniel was what she called 'a little escapade'. For all its fun and frivolity, 'Flush' is none the less a work seriously inclined to mock and question the genre of biography
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'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.
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