This essay reads Virginia Woolf’s Flush as a canine Bildungsroman that challenges this genre’s humanist and phallocentric underpinnings. Woolf signals the phallocentrism of traditional Bildung by contextualizing Flush’s development within circumstances that parallel those of the woman writer. Rather than simply serving as a proxy for the woman writer, the figure of the dog exposes the anthropocentrism that underwrites the privileging of male experience throughout the literary canon. Ultimately, I show how Woolf intertwines the Bildung processes of Flush and Elizabeth to develop a model of literary character that extends beyond the gendered category of the human and reflects the companion-species entanglements that give shape to human and nonhuman experience.


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