Flush: A Biography, an imaginative biography of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's cocker spaniel, is a cross-genre blend of fiction and nonfiction.
Commonly read as a modernist consideration of city life seen through the eyes of a dog, Flush serves as a harsh criticism of the supposedly unnatural ways of living in the city. The figure of Elizabeth Barrett Browning in the text is often read as an analogue for other female intellectuals, like Woolf herself, who suffered from illness, feigned or real, as a part of their status as female writers. Most insightful and experimental are Woolf’s emotional and philosophical views verbalized in Flush’s thoughts. As he spends more time with Barrett Browning, Flush becomes emotionally and spiritually connected to the poetess and both begin to understand each other despite their language barriers. For Flush smell is poetry, but for Barrett Browning, poetry is impossible without words. In Flush Woolf examines the barriers that exist between woman and animal created by language yet overcome through symbolic actions.