ISSN (Online): 2583-0090

“But she was woman; he was dog” – A posthumanist approach to canine subjectivity in Woolf’s Flush

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on 01/11/2022


The world of literature essentially centers around human because it is constructed on the platform of an anthropocentric language. As Nietzsche points out in his essay ‘On Truth and Lying in a Non-moral Sense’, the human idea of truth is flawed and limited because it only extends to human relations established through the use of language over a period of time. The rise of posthumanism questions this position of human at the centre of the universe and seeks to dethrone the ‘Homo sapiens from any particularly privileged position in relation to matters of meaning, information and cognition’ (Wolfe, “What is Posthumanism?”, xii). Virginia Woolf’s Flush: A Biography, following the story of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s cocker spaniel narrated by an omniscient narrator, moves out of the comfortable linguistic world of metaphors and idioms, and tries to locate an alternate world of sense and sensibility. This paper tries to enquire that by writing the biography of a dog whether Woolf is (or later Auster in Timbuktu) trying to extend the world of language to non-humans or it is an effort to include non-humans within the anthropomorphic frame of language because the linguistic barrier can hardly be overcome. I argue that the world of literature still remains human-centric, only the perceiving eyes become that of an outsider. The paper aims to look at Woolf’s Flush: A Biography from a posthumanist theoretical approach, trying to investigate the postanthropocentric ethic of representing the animal ‘other’. It also seeks to question that even with our posthumanist, postanthropocentric approach, whether it is possible to do away with our innate humanism, especially in terms of language.

Keywords : Virginia Woolf, anthropomorphism, anthropocentric language, animal studies, postanthropocentrism

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