Can Flush count?: Virginia Woolf, animality and numbers

Goldman, J. (2023) Can Flush count?: Virginia Woolf, animality and numbers. In: Goody, A. and McCracken, S. (eds.) Beastly Modernisms: The Figure of the Animal in Modernist Literature and Culture. Edinburgh University Press: Edinburgh, pp. 38-55. ISBN 9781477498029 (In Press)

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Abstract

‘Can Flush Count?’ The short answer is ‘Yes – But, in more ways than one!’ This essay counts some of the ways. The historical, lived dog, Flush (c.1840-1854), companion of the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, given to her by Mary Russell Mitford, and the subject of Virginia Woolf’s novel Flush: A Biography (1933) was apparently taught to count. But this parlour game with a poet is possibly the least interesting aspect of any investigation into numbers and animality in Woolf’s best-selling but least critically scrutinised novel. Canine counting and Woolf’s own recorded suspicion of measuring – ‘Who shall measure the heat and violence of a poet’s heart when caught and tangled in a woman’s body?’ (Woolf 1929: 73) – is here considered in relation to Catullus’s famous love lyric against counting and Derrida’s dictum ‘Counting is a bad procedure’, to argue that Flush: A Biography, Woolf’s much neglected ground-breaking work on animality, really does count.

Item Type:Book Sections (Other)
Status:In Press
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Goldman, Dr Jane
Authors: Goldman, J.
Subjects:P Language and Literature > PE English
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
College/School:College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Literature
Publisher:Edinburgh University Press
ISBN:9781477498029

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