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When a stray dog dying on the streets of Moscow is taken in by a wealthy professor, he is subjected to medical experiments in which he receives various transplants of human organs. As he begins to transform into a rowdy, unkempt human by the name of Poligraf Poligrafovich Sharikov, his actions distress the professor and those surrounding him, although he finds himself acce When a stray dog dying on the streets of Moscow is taken in by a wealthy professor, he is subjected to medical experiments in which he receives various transplants of human organs. As he begins to transform into a rowdy, unkempt human by the name of Poligraf Poligrafovich Sharikov, his actions distress the professor and those surrounding him, although he finds himself accepted into the ranks of the Soviet state. A parodic reworking of the Frankenstein myth and a vicious satire of the Communist revolution and the concept of the New Soviet man, A Dog’s Heart was banned by the censors in 1925 and circulated only in samizdat form. Nowadays this hugely entertaining tale has become very popular in Russia, and has inspired many adaptations across the world.


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When a stray dog dying on the streets of Moscow is taken in by a wealthy professor, he is subjected to medical experiments in which he receives various transplants of human organs. As he begins to transform into a rowdy, unkempt human by the name of Poligraf Poligrafovich Sharikov, his actions distress the professor and those surrounding him, although he finds himself acce When a stray dog dying on the streets of Moscow is taken in by a wealthy professor, he is subjected to medical experiments in which he receives various transplants of human organs. As he begins to transform into a rowdy, unkempt human by the name of Poligraf Poligrafovich Sharikov, his actions distress the professor and those surrounding him, although he finds himself accepted into the ranks of the Soviet state. A parodic reworking of the Frankenstein myth and a vicious satire of the Communist revolution and the concept of the New Soviet man, A Dog’s Heart was banned by the censors in 1925 and circulated only in samizdat form. Nowadays this hugely entertaining tale has become very popular in Russia, and has inspired many adaptations across the world.

30 review for A Dog's Heart (Oneworld Classics)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nataliya

    "The whole horror of the situation is that he now has a human heart, not a dog's heart. And about the rottenest heart in all creation!" The recipe for success a la Bulgakov: # Take a street dog, hungry and flea-ridden and wickedly smart (yes, he can even read - you gotta do that to survive on the cruel winter Moscow streets!). # Take a brilliant and renown professor with a knack for brain surgery/transplants and desire to advance science. # Add to the mix a dead good-for-nothing delinquent alcohol "The whole horror of the situation is that he now has a human heart, not a dog's heart. And about the rottenest heart in all creation!" The recipe for success a la Bulgakov: # Take a street dog, hungry and flea-ridden and wickedly smart (yes, he can even read - you gotta do that to survive on the cruel winter Moscow streets!). # Take a brilliant and renown professor with a knack for brain surgery/transplants and desire to advance science. # Add to the mix a dead good-for-nothing delinquent alcoholic's brain. # Add the flavor of the Soviet mid-1920s, after the Socialist Revolution but still before the iron fist rule of Stalin's terror policy. # Let Bulgakov's genius mix all of these ingredients together - and you will end up with a brilliantly written satirical fantastical commentary-on-contemporary-society laughter-through-tears piece of literary art that is Heart of the Dog. Despite its short size, this book has endless layers. On the surface, it is a hilariously sad story about a science experiment gone very wrong in the direction that its creator did not quite anticipate, and all the funny antics of the newly created sorta-human Sharikov. Yes, that includes obsessive and funny cat-chasing even when the dog becomes "human". On the other level, it is a cautionary warning about what happens when power falls in the hands of those who should not be allowed to yield it, and the dangers and pitfalls of the system that allows that to happen. Yes, that includes an easy step from killing cats to pointing guns at real people, and demanding sex in exchange for keeping a job, and of course the ultimate evil that was to penetrate the fabric of the years to come - writing denunciations for little else than petty personal gains."But just think, Philipp Philippovich, what he may turn into if that character Shvonder keeps on at him! I'm only just beginning to realize what Sharikov may become, by God!" "Aha, so you realize now, do you? Well I realized it ten days after the operation. My only comfort is that Shvonder is the biggest fool of all. He doesn't realize that Sharikov is much more of a threat to him than he is to me. At the moment he's doing all he can to turn Sharikov against me, not realizing that if someone in their turn sets Sharikov against Shvonder himself, there'll soon be nothing left of Shvonder but the bones and the beak." I do believe that this book should be used as an illustration of the whole "laughing through tears" concept. It's the epitome of that concept. At times sidesplittingly funny with some sad overtones, it quickly crosses the territory into the mostly sad and even scary, especially given the context of the events still to come to this world of Soviet Union in the mid-1920s. Yes, it's the Stalin era and the Purges and the labor camps and denunciations and mass trials of the "enemies of the people" that I'm talking about. For the characters of this book, these events are just a few years away. Keeping this in mind, you quickly realize that Bulgakov's short novel has undoubtedly way more impact on its reader now than it did back in the mid-twenties when it was written. Back then it was sad and funny, and held a note of warning, and shed the uncomfortable light on the parts of the pre-Stalinist pre-Purges society that were already beginning to feel uncomfortable. However, it ended on a quasi-happy note, the futility of which had only become fully visible years later. And now, for the readers that have the benefit of knowing what history had in store just a few short years later for the likes of those "undesirable elements" described in this book, the impossibility of anything remotely good coming out of the whole situation and of the entire future for Bulgakov's characters becomes painfully clear. 'But Philipp Philippovich, you're a celebrity, a figure of world-wide importance, and just because of some, forgive the expression, son of a bitch… Surely they can't touch you!' 'All the same, I refuse to do it,' said Philipp Philippovich thoughtfully. He stopped and stared at the glass-fronted cabinet. 'But why?' 'Because you are not a figure of world importance.' 'But what…' 'Come now, you don't think I could let you take the rap while I shelter behind my world-wide reputation, do you? Really… I'm a Moscow University graduate, not a Sharikov.'C'mon, we all know that even world-class fame will never save Professor Preobrazhensky from Stalin's labor camps as eventually his higher-up protectors will themselves become victims of the new regime, and likely from a gunshot to the head in the middle of the night. And Bormental's fate will undoubtedly be very similar to that - just as Professor kinda-sorta anticipated already. After all, neither of them has made their unpopular views very secret. 'Yes, I don't like proletariat,' sadly agreed Philipp Philippovich." Professor Preobrazhensky's clearly anti-socialist views definitely would not make his ultimate fate anticipated by the reader after the events of this story any easier. His grumpy views of a cultured and educated person who is baffled and annoyed with the "new" society of coarseness and rudeness and inefficiency and "class struggle" and the undeserved in his opinion entitleness of those who perceive themselves as the oppressed working class and whom Professor in turn perceives as lazy and irresponsible people. And among the rambles of the old and annoyed man there may or may not be a grain of truth. Judge for yourself:'What do you mean by "ruin"? Is it an old woman with a stick? A witch who smashed all the windows and put out all the lights? There's no such thing! What do you mean by that word?' Philipp Philippovich angrily inquired of an unfortunate cardboard duck hanging upside down by the sideboard, then answered the question himself. 'I'll tell you what it is: If instead of operating every evening I were to start a glee club in my apartment, that would mean that I was on the road to "ruin". If when I go to the lavatory I don't piss, if you'll excuse the expression, into the bowl but on to the floor instead and if Zina and Darya Petrovna were to do the same thing, the lavatory would be ruined. Ruin, therefore, is not caused by lavatories but it's something that starts in people's heads. So when these clowns start shouting “Stop the ruin!” – I laugh!'......................... But there is much more to this book than just the condemnation of the system. Had it been only that, it would have become quite dated quite soon. No, just like in Bulgakov's other works, it has a commentary on the state of humanity as a whole, on what makes us truly human versus merely humanoid. It is about the importance of morals and values, the etiquette and politeness and respect that make us really human, and moreso, civilized humans.'I'm sorry, professor, not a dog. This happened when he was a man. That's the trouble.' 'Because he talked?' asked Philipp Philippovich. 'That doesn't mean he was a man."And this respect for culture and etiquette and civility is what permeates the message of this book. This respect for what Bulgakov sees as the essentials of being human are precisely what puts him in the conflict with his contemporary Soviet state that believed in intimidation and terror as the viable way of governing and existing - the principles that newly formed humanoid Sharikov is very eager to learn and internalize. And neither Bulgakov nor Professor Preobrazhensky or Bormental are having that. "Kindness. The only possible method when dealing with a living creature. You'll get nowhere with an animal if you use terror, no matter what its level of development may be. That I have maintained, do maintain and always will maintain. People who think you can use terror are quite wrong. No, no, terror is useless, whatever its colour – white, red or even brown! Terror completely paralyses the nervous system." "Nobody should be whipped. Remember that, once and for all. Neither man nor animal can be influenced by anything but suggestion." Well, my review is getting long and I have nothing but the praise for this book. So I will wrap up with the highest possible recommendation for any fans of Bulgakov or, really, any fans of well-written literature. 5 stars.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    Собачье сердце = Sobach'e serdtse = The Heart of a Dog, Mikhail Afanasevich‬ Bulgakov Heart of a Dog is a novel by Russian author Mikhail Bulgakov. Moscow, 1924. While foraging for trash one winter day, a stray dog is found by a cook and scalded with boiling water. Lying forlorn in a doorway, the dog awaits his end awash in self-pity. To his surprise, a successful surgeon, Filipp Filippovich Preobrazhensky, arrives and offers the dog a piece of sausage. Overjoyed, the dog follows Filip back to h Собачье сердце = Sobach'e serdtse = The Heart of a Dog, Mikhail Afanasevich‬ Bulgakov Heart of a Dog is a novel by Russian author Mikhail Bulgakov. Moscow, 1924. While foraging for trash one winter day, a stray dog is found by a cook and scalded with boiling water. Lying forlorn in a doorway, the dog awaits his end awash in self-pity. To his surprise, a successful surgeon, Filipp Filippovich Preobrazhensky, arrives and offers the dog a piece of sausage. Overjoyed, the dog follows Filip back to his flat, where he's given the name of Sharik. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز اول ماه فوریه سال 1990میلادی عنوان: دل سگ؛ نویسنده: م‍ی‍خ‍ای‍ی‍ل‌ آف‍ان‍اس‍ی‍وی‍چ‌ بولگاکوف؛ مترجم: مهدی غبرایی؛ تهران، مرکز فرهنگی و هنری اقبال؛ 1368، در 203ص موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان روسیه - سده 20م عنوان: قلب سگی؛ نویسنده: میخاییل بولگاکوف؛ مترجم: آبتین گلکار؛ تهران، انتشارات ماهی، 1391؛ شابک 9789642090976؛ عنوان: دل سگ؛ نویسنده: م‍ی‍خ‍ای‍ی‍ل‌ آف‍ان‍اس‍ی‍وی‍چ‌ بولگاکوف؛ مترجم: م‍ح‍م‍د ی‍ع‍ق‍وب‍ی‌؛ تهران، امیرخانی، 1380، در 80ص؛ شابک 9647190158؛ چاپ دیگر ت‍ه‍ران‌، ان‍دی‍ش‍ه‌ س‍ازان‌‏، 1382؛ در 68ص، شابک 9643521028؛ چاپ دیگر تهران، نردبام 1383؛ در 69ص؛ شابک 9648774021؛ عنوان: قلب سگ؛ نویسنده: میخاییل بولگاکوف؛ مترجم: معصومه تاجمیری؛ قم: آوای بیصدا‏‫، 1397؛ در 143ص؛ شابک 9786009926169؛ چاپ دیگر قم، یوشینا، 1397، شابک 978622998465؛ قم آتیلا، 1398؛ در 143ص؛ شابک 9786226585071؛ دل سگ یا «قلب سگی» رمانی ست، اثر نویسنده ی روسیه «میخائیل بولگاکف»؛ که ایشان آن را بین ماههای ژانویه و مارس سال 1925میلادی بنوشتند، ولی تا سال 1987میلادی، در اتحاد جماهیر شوروی آنروزها، امکان انتشار پیدا نکرد؛ تمثیل بُرنده‌ ای درباره ی انقلاب روسیه است؛ داستان درباره ی سگ ولگردی، به نام «شاریک» است، که ظاهر انسانی به خود میگیرد؛ سگ در این داستان، نمادی از مردمان روسیه آنروزگاران است، که سده ها تحت ستم، و خشونت بوده، و با آنها همچو حیوانات رفتار کرده‌ اند؛ جراح عجیب داستان، تجسم حزب کمونیست (یا شاید خود لنین) باشد، و عمل پیوند دشواری، که برای تبدیل سگ به انسان، انجام می‌شود، نمادی از نتیجه ی انقلاب است؛ «بولگاکف»، در این داستان، با طنزی تلخ، نشان می‌دهد این مغز نیست که انسان‌ساز است، بلکه قلب، شالوده، و پایه ی ساخت انسان است؛ صرف داشتن عقل، نمی‌تواند «آدم» بسازد، بلکه احساس و روح انسانی ست، که «انسان» می‌سازد؛ و...؛ تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 13/06/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی

  3. 5 out of 5

    Henry Avila

    A dog with no real name feebly walks his last steps in the cold winters day in Moscow of the 1920's, unloved like many strays in the uncaring city, hungry, filthy with no future, he has not eaten in two days, injured by a man full of hate throwing boiling water at him which burns his side , why ? Just a nuisance to all businessmen, the wandering mutt needed only a little nourishment nobody else gives a second look towards the dying, suffering two year old, the whimpering animal last hours are ne A dog with no real name feebly walks his last steps in the cold winters day in Moscow of the 1920's, unloved like many strays in the uncaring city, hungry, filthy with no future, he has not eaten in two days, injured by a man full of hate throwing boiling water at him which burns his side , why ? Just a nuisance to all businessmen, the wandering mutt needed only a little nourishment nobody else gives a second look towards the dying, suffering two year old, the whimpering animal last hours are near, the dispirited one waits for the end...pitiful noises occasionally detected by the heartless passersby; however something strange transpires a kindly citizen, a prominent surgeon takes pity and bring the canine back to his clinic, feeds, treats him for his excruciating wound the pain soon disappears and for the first time Sharik, (Little Ball) they begin calling him in the home of Philip Philppovich Preobrazhensky the rescuer and the dog starts to believe in life...how lucky plenty of food, a place to live, a beautiful collar he proudly wears on the streets as his health improves and a master that treats him with much respect...still things aren't what they seem. The suspicious animal is right it was not through the goodness of his heart that Philip took him in, but Sharik's body he covets , a first heart and brain operation from human to dog and surprised he isn't very, Sharik the terrified creature an unwilling recipient as you can imagine. After the bloody operation assisted by Doctor Ivan Arnoldovich Bormenthal, Philip's protege and best friend not a fan of Sharik either, two women servants Zina and Darya likewise, they see nothing charming in his looks or attitude, also work there, unexpectedly awakening from the bad dream the animal starts becoming human, (please call him now Poligraph Poligraphovich Sarikov, thank you) his anatomy quickly changing and the fun starts...tearing up the home of the not so good doctor, water flows, things break, bottles of liquor drunk, the females annoyed by his advances....patients are turned away no treatments can commence, the house in danger of being destroyed in other words his presence becomes untenable, the dead man whose parts were planted in the canine was a notorious alcoholic ruffian, expiring from a bar room brawl, a satire on Bolshevism and their petty and heavy ways the uncountable committees made to rule the Russians with an iron hand. Even the famous surgeon isn't exempt from the local housing committee, lusting for his seven rooms, still important Reds need operations... While no "The Master and Margarita" Dr. Mikhail Bulgakov unparalleled classic ...nevertheless a bewitching story for any reader; if this were a play critics would call it the theater of the absurd...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Greta

    A man with the Heart of a Dog still bites This is the most disgusting review I ever wrote! Read till the end to be grossed out :D Thank you for this amazing picture Kristopher and check out his great review : https://bit.ly/3aaFGrr Bulgakov‘s satire starts with a hungry and injured street dog in the cold winter night. Suddenly, a gentleman turns up, who feeds him and takes him home. He turns out to be a famous and wealthy medical professor who rejuvenates people by hormonal manipulations. As soon A man with the Heart of a Dog still bites This is the most disgusting review I ever wrote! Read till the end to be grossed out :D Thank you for this amazing picture Kristopher and check out his great review : https://bit.ly/3aaFGrr Bulgakov‘s satire starts with a hungry and injured street dog in the cold winter night. Suddenly, a gentleman turns up, who feeds him and takes him home. He turns out to be a famous and wealthy medical professor who rejuvenates people by hormonal manipulations. As soon as the dog becomes accustomed to his new comfortable life, the professor and his assistant throw him onto the operating table. In a bloody and complicated operation, they implant the testicles and pituitary gland of a dead criminal into the dog's body. After the operation, the dog gradually begins to change into an animal in human form, walks on two legs, drinks, smokes, and is “familiar with every known Russian swearword”. He is named Sharikov and turns the professors life into a nightmare-until the professor is able to reverse the procedure. The New Soviet Man Bulgakov used sarcasm in every word and if you have an idea of Russia in 1925, you can see how extremely provocative it is. Sharikov could be seen as a symbol for the spirit of the Russian people, that differs completely from the spirit of the professor, who could symbolize the Russian authorities. Sharikov‘s appearance has changed but his heart hasn‘t and he still has dog like behaviors, that won‘t go away. The book therefore could state, that a system change can‘t happen over night, artificially and forced, because the people won‘t adapt, which is why Sharikov isn‘t the one to blame for his unacceptable behavior. Instead the professor is responsible, who created him. Even further, the soviet Union is displayed as a system with such inconsistencies, that a man who has the nature of a dog, could perform and fit into it. Understood as a metaphor the the Russian revolution the novel suggests, that the revolution didn‘t take place because the people developed different believes, desires and values, but because they were forced into a new system, that was a violation and premature experiment. Therefore the Russian society must be returned to its previous state, without waiting for the irreversible consequences of the governments experiment. The unions attempts to create the „new soviet“ based on a modern Marxist rationale, doesn‘t work, because the Russian people didn’t have a change of heart. Of course the book was censored, confiscated and not officially published until 1968. Serge Voronoff Serge Voronoff (in the middle) during surgery Now it gets disgusting,because the living role model for the character of the professor was Serge Voronoff. Voronoff was a French-russian surgeon who specialized in transplating mostly thyroids, testicles and ovaries from animals to humans, in order to rejuvenate their sexuality; regain sexual abilities. He started out with transplanting testicles of executed criminals into millionaires, but because he ran out of executed criminals, he started to use monkey testicles instead. In 1920 Voronoff's monkey-gland treatment even was featured in the vogue. By 1930 over 500 men in France and thousands more all over the world had received his "treatment". He even set up his own monkey farm in Italy, where he employed a former circus-animal keeper to run it, and opened a special clinic in Algiers. His next step was to transplant monkey ovaries into women and the other way around, transplanting a human ovary into a female monkey, and adding human sperm. Because all of this insanity made him extremely rich, he was able to occupy an entire floor of one of Paris's most expensive hotels, including chauffeurs, personal secretaries and two mistresses. Caricature of monkey-gland surgeon Serge Voronoff, probably from 1936 But than it became clear that his operations didn‘t work. Animal tissue transplanted into a human is instantly rejected and only results in scar tissue (if one is lucky). Everyone who was operated and claimed to be sexually improved simply experienced the placebo effect. Voronoff didn‘t understand the nature of hormones like Testosterone yet. When his operations proved unsuccessful and dangerous, people realized they were schemed and he went from being highly respected to a subject of ridicule. Former patients quickly distanced themselves, pretended they had never anything done or were never interest in his operations. By 1935 he was known for being "plagued by secrecy, subjectivity and sensationalism". Because Bulgakov was actually a doctor himself, it makes sense that he made fun of this individual. “A dog's spirit dies hard.” This is one of those cases, where you really need to have a good translation! I read a bad one at first and hated it, until I realized what the problem was. But I can encourage everyone to have a look, who really likes an intense political satire. There is black humor on every page, but you have to have some knowledge about Russia and Voronoff at that time to find it funny....when I learned about Voronoff I couldn‘t decide weather to love or vomit though :D

  5. 5 out of 5

    Warwick

    My favourite kind of satire is not laugh-out-loud funny; it's unsettling, and disturbing, and beautifully weird. Bulgakov brings it, with this short and vicious fable about a dog who is implanted with the genitals and pituitary gland of a deceased convict, transforming him into a bestial hybrid. It's like reading an early-Soviet Chris Morris script – in fact, what this book made me think of more than anything was this creepy sketch from Blue Jam. Bulgakov seems to offer a similarly discomfiting My favourite kind of satire is not laugh-out-loud funny; it's unsettling, and disturbing, and beautifully weird. Bulgakov brings it, with this short and vicious fable about a dog who is implanted with the genitals and pituitary gland of a deceased convict, transforming him into a bestial hybrid. It's like reading an early-Soviet Chris Morris script – in fact, what this book made me think of more than anything was this creepy sketch from Blue Jam. Bulgakov seems to offer a similarly discomfiting blend of verbal dexterity, incisiveness, shock value, and utter disregard for the negative repercussions of his work, which in Bulgakov's case could have been of the most severe kind. I wonder if I would have got as much out of this if I hadn't read it soon after finishing a big history of the Russian Revolution, whose hypocrisies are so unerringly skewered here. The extravagantly detailed and gory scene in which the dog is operated on brings home the nature of the Soviet ‘experiment’ (which its leaders really did see in explicitly scientific terms) in a visceral new way. And the characters are no simple allegories; the doctor, Preobrazhensky (perhaps partly modelled on Pavlov), may in some way symbolise the Bolshevik leaders in that scene, but at other times he is a sympathetic model of liberal Tsarist Russia. Writing after waves of Red Terror and White Terror had bled the countryside, Bulgakov gives his learned protagonist a pointed speech on the subject of ‘kindness to animals’, which is, he says, ‘The only possible way to deal with a living creature. Terror's useless for dealing with an animal, whatever level of development it might be at. I've always said that, I still say it and I always will. They're wrong to think that terror will do them any good. No sir, no sir, it won't, no matter what colour it is: white, red or even brown!’ The man-hound himself, Sharikov, with his barking voice and rough hair, is an unforgettable creation – the joke being that his appalling manners and rock-bottom intelligence win him an enthusiastic welcome in the Party. He ends up as head of a sub-department and possible member of the Cheka secret police. (His name, Sharikov, comes from the stereotypical Russian dog's name ‘Sharik’; it thus means something like Roverson or McFido.) Ultimately, the gruesome experiment does not work, and Preobrazhensky's reflection on it all again takes on the most direct political connotations. ‘Science does not yet know any way of turning animals into human beings. This was my attempt, but an unsuccessful one, as you can see. He spoke for a while and then began to revert to his original primitive condition.’ As a comment on the uprising of a people – He spoke for a while and then began to revert to his original primitive condition – I found this breathtaking in its curt derision. The target, of course, is not the people themselves, but their mendacious leaders. No wonder the Soviets banned the book on sight in 1925, and it wasn't actually published, anywhere, until 1987 (just ten years before that Blue Jam sketch was broadcast!). There are several translations of this available, and not being a Russian reader, I compared a few of them before I ordered my copy. Unfortunately, I got confused by all the different Amazon "Look Inside" tabs I had open at the same time, and ordered the wrong one. I ended up with Andrew Bromfield's version published by Penguin, which, OK, is perfectly serviceable. Here's an example of it, from the first few pages, moving from the dog's internal monologue to a description of a nearby typist: Wasn't getting in his way, was I? Not going to eat the entire National Economic Council into ruin if I have a rummage in the rubbish tip, am I? Rotten stingy swine! Just take a look at that fat ugly mug of his some time: wider across than it is long. A real brazen-faced thief. […] The dry blizzard witch rattled the gates and swiped her broomstick across the young woman's ear. Tossed her skirt up to her knees, exposing the cream stockings and a narrow strip of badly laundered underwear, choked off her words and smothered the dog in snow. The only part of this that doesn't work is the ‘dry blizzard witch’, clearly a little personification in the original Russian which just seems confusing in this translation. Otherwise it reads OK, and as it was done in 2007 it should at least benefit from more recent scholarship than the other two I looked at. Vintage publish the Michael Glenny version from 1968, which I prefer in many ways (this is actually the one I meant to buy): What harm was I doing him, anyway? I'm not robbing the National Economic Council's food supply if I go foraging in their dustbins, am I? Greedy pig! Just take a look at his ugly mug – it's almost fatter than he is. Hard-faced crook. […] The terrible snowstorm howled around the doorway, buffeting the girl's ears. It blew her skirt up to her knees, showing her fawn stockings and a little strip of badly washed lace underwear, drowned her words and covered the dog in snow. ‘Fatter than he is’ seems wrong, based on the other two, but dropping the witch business and just talking about a ‘terrible snowstorm’ makes for a much more natural-sounding English style. Meanwhile in the US, the most common translation seems to be the Mirra Ginsburg one published by Grove Press, which in my opinion is rather poor. What harm did I do him? Would the People's Economic Soviet get any poorer if I rooted in the garbage heap? The greedy brute! Take a look at that mug of his sometimes—it's wider than it's long. A crook with a brass jowl. […] The wind, that raging witch, rattled the gate and boxed the young lady on the ear with its broom. It blew up her skirt above her knees, baring the cream-colored stockings and a narrow strip of the poorly laundered lace panties. It drowned out her words and swept across the dog. ‘The wind, that raging witch’ is a decent solution to the personification problem. But to my ear, this has several other problems. ‘Sometimes’ should surely read ‘sometime’; ‘up’ should be placed after ‘her skirt’, not before; and ‘a crook with a brass jowl’ is just dreadful. Anyway, your mileage may vary. But whichever translation you pick, find a way to get your canines into this, pronto.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Glenn Russell

    Can you say "Booby Brash Bolsheviks" three times fast, comrades? If not, you can surely howl with laughter. Ooow-ow-ooow-owow! Operating on animals to effect a transform in a humanly direction has been around for some time. In novels, that is. There’s H.G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau published in 1896 and Kristen Bakis’ less well known 1997 Lives of the Monster Dogs, a bizarre, creepy story of humanoid German shepherds strolling Manhattan as rich aristocrats. Another such novel on the list, Can you say "Booby Brash Bolsheviks" three times fast, comrades? If not, you can surely howl with laughter. Ooow-ow-ooow-owow! Operating on animals to effect a transform in a humanly direction has been around for some time. In novels, that is. There’s H.G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau published in 1896 and Kristen Bakis’ less well known 1997 Lives of the Monster Dogs, a bizarre, creepy story of humanoid German shepherds strolling Manhattan as rich aristocrats. Another such novel on the list, The Heart of a Dog, is Mikhail Bulgakov’s stinging satire written in 1925 but not published in the Russian author's home country until 1987 (oh, those damn censors!). Having been censored, of course it follows that much of the heart of The Heart targets the Soviet Union’s brand of communism practiced in those tumultuous years. Additionally, the novel can be interpreted as a parable of the Russian Revolution. And there’s a healthy bit of word play lost in translation. This to say, as a 21st century American, I feel confident writing a book review but I do not have the background in either Russian history or the Russian language to begin to address a number of important dimensions on display in this modern classic. But still, even in English (I’d recommend the Michael Glenny translation), Mikhail Bulgakov's short novel makes for a rewarding read. I hesitate to say “enjoyable read” since one is best reading the book on an empty stomach and when in the mood for page after page of unnerving, off the wall humor of the blackest variety. Since so much of the bite (no pun intended) of this novel about an Ivan Pavlov watanabe experimenting on a mangy, stray dog by surgically implanting a dead convict’s pituitary gland and testicles is in its colorful detail, I’ll couple my comments with a batch of direct doggie novel quotes: “Some bastard in a dirty white cap - the cook in the office canteen at the National Economic Council - spilled some boiling water and scalded my left side. Filthy swine - and a proletarian, too.” ---------- This from the opening chapter where Sharik the dog makes pithy observations on the pathetic, viscous humans he must put up with as he makes his way through Moscow. The short novel's delightful shifts back and forth between first-person (the dog) and third-person provide the narrative technique enabling Mikhail Bulgakov to hurl his caustic barbs from multiple angles, well crafted darts at a dart board filled with stupidity and arrogance of both individuals and society as a whole. “By kindness. The only possible method when dealing with a living creature. You'll get nowhere with an animal if you use terror, no matter what its level of development may be. That I have maintained, do maintain and always will maintain. People who think you can use terror are quite wrong. No, terror's useless, whatever its colour - white, red or even brown! Terror completely paralyses the nervous system.” ---------- Our good professor’s observation on how to treat dogs like Sharik. Irony of ironies - since humans do not possess the dignity of animals, state sponsored ‘red’ terror is perfectly acceptable. And effective! Especially if you want to strong-arm an entire population into lockstep conformity. And hypocritical Professor Philip Philipovich eventually resorts to his own brand of terrorizing to achieve his selfish ends. “This place is indecent, thought the dog, but I like it! What the hell can he want me for, though? Is he just going to let me live here? Maybe he's eccentric. After all, he could get a pedigree dog as easy as winking.” --------- Ha! All those decent, starving Russians were likewise gullible in their support of Uncle Joe. If they only knew what evil their new leader was capable of perpetrating, all in the name of “improving” human nature and society. “'Excuse me,' Shvonder interrupted him, 'but it was just because of your dining-room and your consulting-room that we came to see you. The general meeting requests you, as a matter of labor discipline, to give up your dining-room voluntarily. No one in Moscow has a dining-room.'” -------- Four members from the apartment committee barge into the professor’s living quarters and attempt to lay down the law on how the new society will be structured. Each time committee members make their appearance throughout the novel is an opportunity for the author to poke a long satiric needle into the side of the Soviets. Ouch! “Yes, a policeman! Nothing else will do. Doesn't matter whether he wears a number or a red cap. A policeman should be posted alongside every person in the country with the job of moderating the vocal outbursts of our honest citizenry.” ---------- Professor Philip Philipovich’s wry comment. Mikhail Bulgakov anticipates the omnipresent eye of the totalitarian state sending men and women off to forced labor camps for the slightest vocal outburst. “Dripping with exertion and excitement Bormenthal leapt to a glass jar and removed from it two more wet, dangling testicles, their short, moist, stringy vesicles dangling like elastic in the hands of the professor and his assistant. . . . The professor replaced the membranes over the brain, restored the sawn-off lid to its exact place, pushed the scalp back into position and roared: 'Suture!'” --------- As a trained physician himself, Mikhail Bulgakov had the background in medicine to provide oodles of lurid details in his scene devoted to operating on the dog, Again, a novel requiring a strong stomach; not for the squeamish. “'Take that trash off your neck. Sha . . . if you saw yourself in a mirror you'd realise what a fright it makes you look. You look like a clown. For the hundredth time - don't throw cigarette ends on to the floor. And I don't want to hear any more swearing in this flat! And don't spit everywhere!” --------- The unexpected consequence of the operation – the dog is now a completely formed little man capable of speaking and reading. And spluttering and acting like a low-grade slob! Not exactly the type of person our good professor wants in his apartment. But, as it turns out, he has no choice – in a planned society, rules are rules. These are but seven delectable morsels. Each and every page of The Heart of a Dog is filled with such supercharged passages. I urge you to take the plunge into the author's short masterpiece. Here's looking at you. Mikhail Bulgakov, 1891-1940

  7. 5 out of 5

    Richard Derus

    Rating: 4*of five The Publisher Says: A new edition of Bulgakov’s fantastical precursor to The Master and Margarita, part of Melville House’s reissue of the Bulgakov backlist in Michael Glenny’s celebrated translations. A key work of early modernism, this is the superbly comic story of a Soviet scientist and a scroungy Moscow mongrel named Sharik. Attempting a medical first, the scientist transplants the glands of a petty criminal into the dog and, with that, turns a distinctly worryingly human an Rating: 4*of five The Publisher Says: A new edition of Bulgakov’s fantastical precursor to The Master and Margarita, part of Melville House’s reissue of the Bulgakov backlist in Michael Glenny’s celebrated translations. A key work of early modernism, this is the superbly comic story of a Soviet scientist and a scroungy Moscow mongrel named Sharik. Attempting a medical first, the scientist transplants the glands of a petty criminal into the dog and, with that, turns a distinctly worryingly human animal loose on the city. The new, lecherous, vulgar, Engels-spouting Sharik soon finds his niche in governmental bureaucracy as the official in charge of purging the city of cats. A Frankenstein fable that’s as funny as it is terrifying, The Heart of a Dog has also been read as a fierce parable of the Russian Revolution. It was rejected for publication by the censors in 1925, and circulated in samizdat for years until Michael Glenny translated it into English in 1968—long before it was allowed to be officially published in the Soviet Union. That happened only in 1987, although till this day the book remains one of Mikhail Bulgakov’s most controversial novels in his native country. My Review: Anyone who's ever read The Master and Margarita already knows that Bulgakov is a rebel, an anarchist, and damn good and funny with it. His thoughts were, based on the novels I've read, contrarian in the extreme as well as profoundly sensitive to practical concerns: “The rule apparently is—once a social revolution takes place there’s no need to stoke the boiler. But I ask you: why, when this whole business started, should everybody suddenly start clumping up and down the marble staircase in dirty galoshes and felt boots? Why must we now keep our galoshes under lock and key? And put a soldier on guard over them to prevent them from being stolen? Why has the carpet been removed from the front staircase? Did Marx forbid people to keep their staircases carpeted? Did Karl Marx say anywhere that the front door of No. 2 Kalabukhov House in Prechistenka Street must be boarded up so that people have to go round and come in by the back door? What good does it do anybody? Why can’t the proletarians leave their galoshes downstairs instead of dirtying the staircase?’ ‘But the proletarians don’t have any galoshes, Philip Philipovich,’ stammered the doctor.” And the simple truth about revolution that probably contributed heavily to the book's suppression in the Soviet era: “People who think you can use terror are quite wrong. No, no, terror is useless, whatever its colour—white, red or even brown! Terror completely paralyses the nervous system.” He saw the terror around him, saw the results, and distilled a response into a short phrase. That's writing that's a joy to read. But we can't leave revolutionary-era Moscow without hearing from the eponymous heart-haver. Early in the book, we're told the sad tale of an unwanted dog whose people-savvy beats that of most of the humans I've ever met: Eyes mean a lot. Like a barometer. They tell you everything—they tell you who has a heart of stone, who would poke the toe of his boot in your ribs as soon as look at you—and who’s afraid of you. The cowards—they’re the ones whose ankles I like to snap at. If they’re scared, I go for them. Serve them right..grrr..bow-wow…” All hail Michael Glenny, of blessed memory since dying in 1990. Without him, Bulgakov's banned and suppressed works might remain out of the English-speaker's reach.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Steven Godin

    A Dog's Heart (or, The Heart of a Dog) still bites strongly with sharp teeth after so much time, and, unlike a lot of other Russian golden oldies that feel old, this could have been written yesterday. Bulgakov's satire of life in the early years of the Soviet Union cost himself dear, and it has not lost any of its provocative power. I even preferred this to his ever so popular Master and Margarita. Giving a reading of A Dog's Heart in his Moscow apartment - March 1925, he introduced to a group of A Dog's Heart (or, The Heart of a Dog) still bites strongly with sharp teeth after so much time, and, unlike a lot of other Russian golden oldies that feel old, this could have been written yesterday. Bulgakov's satire of life in the early years of the Soviet Union cost himself dear, and it has not lost any of its provocative power. I even preferred this to his ever so popular Master and Margarita. Giving a reading of A Dog's Heart in his Moscow apartment - March 1925, he introduced to a group of people, Sharik, the humanoid dog, and the arrogant surgeon who created him. But there just so happened to be an informer in the small crowd, who took it as a threatening mockery as to his views on Soviet society. Bulgakov’s residence was searched and the manuscript seized. Though it was returned to him, but not for another four years. Sharik makes his first appearance as a mangy mongrel cringing in a blizzard after being douched with boiling water by a cook, and out of a shop pops a man with the smell of hospitals and cigars, Philip Philipovich. With sausage he has just bought, he lures Sharik back to his apartment, a seven-room suite in a building that has been requisitioned by a committee of zealous young revolutionaries. Even early on, Bulgakov conveys so much about Soviet life in the way he perceived it. After his latest experiment (which is described in gruesome medical detail) he witnesses what happens when the dog is implanted with the testicles and pituitary glands of a human. The creature emerges from the operating table, and soon walks, talks, drinks, smokes, and is a seasoned veteran when it comes to Russian swearwords. After receiving identity papers he is placed in charge of the Moscow Cleansing Department responsible for eliminating vagrant quadrupeds, cats, etc...but not before he has turned to crime, stealing from gentlemen and comrades alike, and attempting to have his wicked way with women whilst they sleep. Bulgakov, the political commentator sending up Soviet theories, was also, as a former physician, poking fun at western Europeans who flocked to a Paris-based quack in the belief that he could restore virility with an injection of monkey glands of all things. In his own formulation, this novella is both a scathing satire with an inflammatory gesture and a riotous science-fiction dark comedy. It's runs through with an energy, that, after nearly 100 years in passing, still seems freshly defiant. Gets my bark of approval.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    What does it mean to be human? To be an individual? How unfortunate we must be, us, merely to be human beings. We can never escape what we truly are. We can nip and tuck our way around our flaws, but humans inevitably are always their own disastrous downfalls and worst nightmares. Heart of a Dog is, before anything else, FUN. It's just really damn entertaining. We start with a sort of Woody Allen neurotic type stream of concsiousness narrative from a stray dog, Sharik, who is swooped up by doctor What does it mean to be human? To be an individual? How unfortunate we must be, us, merely to be human beings. We can never escape what we truly are. We can nip and tuck our way around our flaws, but humans inevitably are always their own disastrous downfalls and worst nightmares. Heart of a Dog is, before anything else, FUN. It's just really damn entertaining. We start with a sort of Woody Allen neurotic type stream of concsiousness narrative from a stray dog, Sharik, who is swooped up by doctor Preobrazhensky. The doctor, aiming for notoriety, removes the dog's testicles and pituitary glands and replaces them with those of a deceased man. Bake for a few days and voila! Your monster is ready, monsieur! Philip Philopovich Preobrazhensky is one sorry doctor. Not only does his experiment yield a strange and frightful sort of human creature of a Frankensteinian nature, but his 'creation' starts to call him out on his own shit. "..here's one guy with seven rooms and forty pairs of trousers and there's another guy who has to eat out of dustbins..." What's this Doc? Did you just stir up a recipe for breeding communists? And look at how this dog, this animal, is thinking like a Commie! Oy! Bulgakov delivers a solid core message amongst all this hysteria about the dangers of people and government brandishing their power on others. About how horrifyingly bad things can go when the haves help themselves to the have-nots. You can think for days on this stuff and go around in circles, there are so many ideas flying around in the 100 pages of this books. Bulgakov has, for the second time, seduced me with his whimsical, terrifying, outrageous and unique voice. A voice still relevant today. A voice we should all heed. "Nobody should be whipped. Remember that, once and for all. Neither man nor animal can be influenced by anything but suggestion."

  10. 4 out of 5

    Nat K

    ”Such an eccentric! Why, he need only blink an eye and he could have the finest dog in town! But maybe I am handsome? I guess I’m lucky!” My humour and I seem to have parted company recently. I was desperate to start the New Year with a “happy” story. Plus I needed something short and snappy to get my reading mojo back, as that seems to have walked down the road with my humour. “Happy” I could not find. But it popped into my head to re-visit Heart of a Dog. This is another book (along with Clive B ”Such an eccentric! Why, he need only blink an eye and he could have the finest dog in town! But maybe I am handsome? I guess I’m lucky!” My humour and I seem to have parted company recently. I was desperate to start the New Year with a “happy” story. Plus I needed something short and snappy to get my reading mojo back, as that seems to have walked down the road with my humour. “Happy” I could not find. But it popped into my head to re-visit Heart of a Dog. This is another book (along with Clive Barker’s Weaveworld) which I read in literally a lifetime ago back in 1991. Yep. Last century. Seems that was a good reading year for me. It was always in the back of my mind to read this again, as I remember having much mirth reading it. I thought it was the ants’ pants. What better way to start my reading year than with a good satire (happy is over-rated anyway). And who are the best satirists? The Russians. To drill it down further, Mikhail Bulgakov is one of my favourite satirists. And Heart of a Dog sits firmly on my favourite shelf. I turned the various bookshelves around the house upside down to find it. It took me the good portion of New Year’s morning to do so. I’d go off and do something else, and then resume the search. Jackpot! My book is yellowed with age, it creaks when you open it, and the pages are dotted with spots and splodges peculiar only to paperbacks that have been around for a long time. It adds to the charm. Perfect. Written in 1925, it’s astonishing to think that this book is just a few years shy of being 100 years old. Yet to me it remains fresh, humorous, and just as relevant as when it was written. Perhaps even more so. The opening page has us inside the head (think Being John Malkovich) of an unloved, starving mutt, Sharik, roaming the streets of a freezing Moscow, begging for food scraps. To say life is cruel for Sharik is an understatement. But a saviour arrives! A fine looking gentleman takes pity on him, offers him some food, and takes him home to his nice warm apartment. "He's concerned about me, thought the dog. A very good man. I know who he. He is a wizard, a magician, a sorcerer out of a dog's fairy tale..." But are there ulterior motives? Of course there are. This is where the dystopian, Machiavellian and Frankensteinian kicks into play. Sharik is to become part of an experiment that his fine gentleman saviour, Philip Philippovich and his offsider and best friend Dr.Blumenthal, are trialling. He will have the pituitary gland and other organs of a recently deceased criminal transplanted into his body...You'll have to read the book to find out the rest. Absurdist, disturbing, dark humour at its best. The squalor and poverty of life in the misery of a Moscow Winter, the class heavy discrepancies of society and the futility of the “rise” of the proletariat are displayed in all of their glory. Ironically, I recall finding this much funnier on my first reading. I found it utterly witty and clever. This time around - with a lot more life experience - I realise that Mikhail Bulgakov was a kind of visionary with his observations. His humour not only showed the “Heart of a Dog” but the heart of humans. No wonder his works were silenced, and then not printed for so many years. If you’ve already read this, read it again. If you haven’t read it, grab a copy, grab a cuppa, and have a read. It won’t take long, coming in at just over 100 pages. While this is perhaps Bulgakov’s lesser known work in comparison to Master and the Margarita which is somewhat of a cult classic, this novella will have you thinking for a long time afterwards. Beware the hand that feeds you...

  11. 4 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    Ronald Reagan used to alarm his Soviet counterparts by saying that surely they'd both unite against an invasion from Mars. -- Christopher Hitchens In Soviet Russia, dog's testicles lick you. What happens when a Russian stray dog meets a early Soviet doctor? Testicles and pituitary glands get involved and a New Soviet man is made. Part Kafkaesque transformation story, part mockery of eugenics and early Soviet attempts at creating the ideal Russian man, Bulgakov's novella is not quite as brilliant a Ronald Reagan used to alarm his Soviet counterparts by saying that surely they'd both unite against an invasion from Mars. -- Christopher Hitchens In Soviet Russia, dog's testicles lick you. What happens when a Russian stray dog meets a early Soviet doctor? Testicles and pituitary glands get involved and a New Soviet man is made. Part Kafkaesque transformation story, part mockery of eugenics and early Soviet attempts at creating the ideal Russian man, Bulgakov's novella is not quite as brilliant as The Master and Margarita, but still it is a stunning example of underground Soviet literature. It is funny, absurd, dark, and worth an afternoon.

  12. 4 out of 5

    MJ Nicholls

    Mikhail Bulgakov is one of the most overlooked Russian satirists/geniuses of the 20th century. I’ve read two works of his now, and both have floored me with the scathing cleverness of their satire, the sheer originality of their ideas, and the fact that both these Russian texts – written during Stalin’s reign – are instantly accessible to the modern reader. The Heart of a Dog (1925) is a short blast against the ‘New Soviet Man’ – a comment on the declining power of Communism and the changing tides Mikhail Bulgakov is one of the most overlooked Russian satirists/geniuses of the 20th century. I’ve read two works of his now, and both have floored me with the scathing cleverness of their satire, the sheer originality of their ideas, and the fact that both these Russian texts – written during Stalin’s reign – are instantly accessible to the modern reader. The Heart of a Dog (1925) is a short blast against the ‘New Soviet Man’ – a comment on the declining power of Communism and the changing tides in the Soviet power structure, which up until then, had been an excruciating series of proletarian rebellions and bourgeois sanctions. Most importantly, though – the book is utterly hilarious. Narrated by Sharik, a stray dog hours from a chilly death on the streets of Moscow, the tale follows our mongrel hero through his rescue from the ‘mad Professor’ Preobrazhensky, his transformation from a dog into a man, to his life as an unruly proletarian scoundrel, mooching off his bourgeois masters. The humour is mainly farcical – most certainly inspired by the work of Nikolai Gogol, esp. his masterpiece The Overcoat. A metaphorical war between the classes ensues as Sharik tears the doctor’s flat apart, kills wandering tabbies, and lands a job for the Moscow Cleansing Department through a vengeful trade unionist seeking the haughty professor’s arrest. Bulgakov, who spent most of his writing life as a dramatist, has a perfect ear for dialogue and captures the absurdities of his homeland with a sense of unfazed abandon. It is his fearlessness as a satirist that makes this novel such a pleasure to behold, and even more telling that it would take a further sixty-two years before this book was printed in the Soviet Union. A man ahead of his time who defined his era so wonderfully. Read him.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sidharth Vardhan

    That of a stray dog is one of the hardest lives of all. Always suffering from hunger and being forced to live under open sky come rain or winds. And they are always afraid of people around them - a fear probably born of some violent experience. Our protagonist is one such dog. The first-person narrative of dog in first few chapter will put a knowing smile on face of anyone who has observed dogs closely. What follows is a cruel experiement in which some of dog's body parts are replaced with that of That of a stray dog is one of the hardest lives of all. Always suffering from hunger and being forced to live under open sky come rain or winds. And they are always afraid of people around them - a fear probably born of some violent experience. Our protagonist is one such dog. The first-person narrative of dog in first few chapter will put a knowing smile on face of anyone who has observed dogs closely. What follows is a cruel experiement in which some of dog's body parts are replaced with that of a dead man. And thus sci-fiction themes of moral issues relating to genetic engineering and that kind of thing is there. The description kind of reminded me of this inhuman experiment. Disgusting, isn't it? Another way of looking at it is a satirical allegory of revolution. The dog-human being the government of prolls. The very name of human whose organs were used (a thief) Chugunkin derives from Russian word for cast iron. Of course after transformation, iron becomes Stal or steel, which is word from which Stalin's name is driven. There are some rather funny moments. The dogs of Russia are apparently rather well informed. They all know how to read - mostly from hoardings over groccery shops, restaurants etc. They are also well versed in all curses in Russian language. They are also well versed in language of revolution.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jan-Maat

    If your only acquaintance with Bulgakov is Master and Margarita then Heart of a Dog will come as a surprise. It is one of several science out of control, possibly influenced by Jules Verne and H.G. Wells stories. However what is not to like about this mad scientist story about how things go horribly wrong when the pituitary gland and testicles of a dead man are transplanted into a stray dog? Behold the Soviet new man constructed from death and a dog. No wonder that the opera going, traditionally If your only acquaintance with Bulgakov is Master and Margarita then Heart of a Dog will come as a surprise. It is one of several science out of control, possibly influenced by Jules Verne and H.G. Wells stories. However what is not to like about this mad scientist story about how things go horribly wrong when the pituitary gland and testicles of a dead man are transplanted into a stray dog? Behold the Soviet new man constructed from death and a dog. No wonder that the opera going, traditionally bourgeois scientist can't get on with his creation. A twist on Frankenstein and his monster, but this time it is the monster that seems to be in step with the Zeitgeist in its combination of the worst in dog and man, while his creator who is at odds with the society he finds himself in and his own creation. Although very strongly not recommended for cat lovers there is broad comedy here in line with Bulgakov's other satirical stories and plays while the theology of the later Master and Margarita has yet to make an appearance.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Paquita Maria Sanchez

    I'm not even sure where to begin...there is so much going on in this little novella (particularly concerning the Russian government and its sociopolitical policies in the 1920's and beyond), that I'm be afraid that discussing it in detail would only serve to highlight my ignorance on the subject. So here it is! Me highlighting my ignorance on the subject... I decided to read this story simultaneously with The Master and Margarita with the hope of completing The Heart of a Dog first. I did this na I'm not even sure where to begin...there is so much going on in this little novella (particularly concerning the Russian government and its sociopolitical policies in the 1920's and beyond), that I'm be afraid that discussing it in detail would only serve to highlight my ignorance on the subject. So here it is! Me highlighting my ignorance on the subject... I decided to read this story simultaneously with The Master and Margarita with the hope of completing The Heart of a Dog first. I did this namely because, if goodreads is telling us right, The Master is fittingly considered Bulgakov's "masterpiece," and I have noticed over the years that reading an author's masterwork before reading anything else by them leads to an initial period of intense excitement, followed by a steady series of increasingly disappointing disappointments (yes, I said it). However, if you start with something "average" (no offense intended toward this story), you generally proceed through the author's remaining works with a more "fair and balanced" (couldn't help myself) view. It's sort of a big-picture approach, I suppose. That said, for such a small story, this novella is dripping in allegories which refer to historical events and political views of which my knowledge is minimal, and for which one could write quite a hefty term paper. I caught the whole "dog as a reference/protest to the socialist notion of the New Soviet Man (Homo Sovieticus)" thing. It seems that Bulgakov wanted to illustrate that even if the Bolsheviks believed that the Russian people would evolve into a perfect specimen of mankind (sort of a "master race," if you will), they will never be able to truly separate themselves from the animals with which they concurrently evolved and are forever linked to. It also seems to indicate that complete and utter selflessness/self-control are not and will never been intrinsic qualities of the human race, as seen in the degradation of the (un?)fortunate dog-man-thing, Sharik. Further, Bulgakov seems to take issue with the semi-isolationist economic policies of the area, as well as the government centralization of power over most industries. There is additionally a "big brother" undertone to the Soviet government's interference in the lives of the characters, as seen in the many legal troubles that Doctor Preobrezhensky almost faces by simply stating his anti-communist stance. All of this is piled up in a relatively short and sweet novella to such an extent that you leave it feeling overwhelmed and impressed at the clever trick that has been played on you. You have literally GORGED yourself on knowledge of Soviet Russia, and filled your head to the brim with additional questions which will leave you feeling compelled to investigate this country's dark history in far greater detail. WHEW. So you see, this one is a doozy. However, it is far more enjoyable than this semi-clinical review would indicate. Bulgakov employs an interesting technique of shifting the narrator and narrative style (from first to third person and back again, for example) that makes for quite a dynamic reading experience. The sections of the story told from Sharik's view as a dog seeing the worlds with almost-human, yet primarily survivalist eyes are particularly humorous, upsetting, and impressively crafted. I would be interested to find out what it would have been like to read this novella as a citizen of Russia at the time that it was written (1920's). Of course, the novel was banned before publication and was not released in Russia until the mid to late 60's, so this is unfortunately something that we can never really know...

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jon Nakapalau

    This book has been on my 'bucket list' for a long time. Part allegory and part dystopian fiction it examines the connection between class struggle and the role social stratification plays in the formation of society. Poligraf Poligrafovich Sharikov was a 'dog' who was forced to become a 'man' through an experiment he had no control over. But what kind of man he becomes is a question that must be looked at from many differing perspectives. No wonder this novel was banned in the Soviet Union for 6 This book has been on my 'bucket list' for a long time. Part allegory and part dystopian fiction it examines the connection between class struggle and the role social stratification plays in the formation of society. Poligraf Poligrafovich Sharikov was a 'dog' who was forced to become a 'man' through an experiment he had no control over. But what kind of man he becomes is a question that must be looked at from many differing perspectives. No wonder this novel was banned in the Soviet Union for 60 years and only allowed to be published there 1987.

  17. 4 out of 5

    F

    Loved this book. Unlike anything i have ever read.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Petra-X Off having adventures

    Totally amazing book. More accessible than The Master and Margarita but just as evil in its way. Totally amazing book. More accessible than The Master and Margarita but just as evil in its way.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jacob Overmark

    How not to train your dog There are many breeds of dogs, and humans – Each come with certain qualities, each serve a certain purpose. Bulgakov, the doctor, examines the Frankenstein theme, laying bare the nature of the revolutionary, what is imbedded in his heart, what lives in his brain. You can take a man out of the streets but you can’t take the streets out of the man. This is the conclusion, after a ground-breaking organ transplantation, that leave us with a talking, swearing, boozing and gener How not to train your dog There are many breeds of dogs, and humans – Each come with certain qualities, each serve a certain purpose. Bulgakov, the doctor, examines the Frankenstein theme, laying bare the nature of the revolutionary, what is imbedded in his heart, what lives in his brain. You can take a man out of the streets but you can’t take the streets out of the man. This is the conclusion, after a ground-breaking organ transplantation, that leave us with a talking, swearing, boozing and generally ill-behaving dog. Now for the training, which turns out to be a mouthful … what dog will ever suppress the instinct to chase cats?! Bulgakov draws a fine picture of what it is like to be bourgeois in a country that recently has turned a “workers union”. The endless regulations, the sudden power given to “house committees” and the opportunity for the working class to settle old scores – just for the fun of it.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Anthony Vacca

    It ain't easy being a dog. No, it ain't easy. Especially when you have to rummage the streets of Moscow, avoiding the bitter proletariat who will kick you and curse you and throw boiling water on your hide, just because you want a bite to eat. And you want to be a good doggie, make no mistake. Everyone wants a friend, even dogs. So you take kindness from whatever hand that offers; and how could anyone expect a good dog like you to do otherwise? Who cares if the pampered hand you have to lick is It ain't easy being a dog. No, it ain't easy. Especially when you have to rummage the streets of Moscow, avoiding the bitter proletariat who will kick you and curse you and throw boiling water on your hide, just because you want a bite to eat. And you want to be a good doggie, make no mistake. Everyone wants a friend, even dogs. So you take kindness from whatever hand that offers; and how could anyone expect a good dog like you to do otherwise? Who cares if the pampered hand you have to lick is that of a bourgeois, world-renowned scientist? A dog's got to eat, and a dog's got to have somewhere to sleep. When some kind soul offers you a place to call home are you going say, "No thanks, brother; I prefer the gutter"? So, it's not your fault at all when the scientist cuts up your cranium and switches out your good doggie pituitary glands for those of a recently deceased human brute. No, it's not your fault that the procedure inexplicably transmogrifies you into a human. It's hard to be a good dog when you're a human. There's so much you don't understand and nobody wants to help you. Who wants to be friends with someone who likes to chase cats, swear vigorously, pick fights, smell women, eat badly, dress worse, drink too much - oh, it's really all just too much. No, it ain't easy being a dog. Especially when that's how everyone wants to treat you. Treat you like a dog. It can do horrors to the heart.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    One of the great tragedies of life is that so few people outside Russia have read this, and that I can't imagine any translation could even come close to capturing the setting and language of the original. Professor Preobrazhensky is searching for a way to restore youth. In his research process, he experiments with replacing a dog's hypothalamus with that of a man, but instead of making the dog younger, the procedure gradually turns the dog into a man, with horrifying results. The book is an expl One of the great tragedies of life is that so few people outside Russia have read this, and that I can't imagine any translation could even come close to capturing the setting and language of the original. Professor Preobrazhensky is searching for a way to restore youth. In his research process, he experiments with replacing a dog's hypothalamus with that of a man, but instead of making the dog younger, the procedure gradually turns the dog into a man, with horrifying results. The book is an exploration of what it means to be human, set against the dreary, impoverished background of 1920s Russia. Lastly, this is one of the very, very few cases where I prefer the movie version to the book. That the book itself is brilliant only underscores the genius of the filmmakers.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jonfaith

    There is a photograph of me sitting in a gutter in Paris reading this novel. I am rather skinny in the photo. What isn't conveyed is that I was losing my mind. I was abroad and it was a mistake. There was considerable business requiring my immediate attention back home. There I was. All was resolved upon my return. I think about the novel periodically, especially given the currency of Bulgakov in certain circles. It would be pithy to suppose that this portal concerning transformation was crucial There is a photograph of me sitting in a gutter in Paris reading this novel. I am rather skinny in the photo. What isn't conveyed is that I was losing my mind. I was abroad and it was a mistake. There was considerable business requiring my immediate attention back home. There I was. All was resolved upon my return. I think about the novel periodically, especially given the currency of Bulgakov in certain circles. It would be pithy to suppose that this portal concerning transformation was crucial in my own adjustment of status. It wasn't, but that's life.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jenni

    Finished this with tears in my eyes at 1:54 in the morning, and anxiously awaiting my lecture on it tomorrow afternoon. It's THAT good. In this short novel, written in the mid 1920's in Soviet Russia and not published until the 80's, Bulgakov manages a few different levels of awareness. The surface level is a moderately comedic story about a scientist that transplants a human's brain into a dog's body, at which point the dog (Sharikov) begins to become progressively "human". The human-like creatu Finished this with tears in my eyes at 1:54 in the morning, and anxiously awaiting my lecture on it tomorrow afternoon. It's THAT good. In this short novel, written in the mid 1920's in Soviet Russia and not published until the 80's, Bulgakov manages a few different levels of awareness. The surface level is a moderately comedic story about a scientist that transplants a human's brain into a dog's body, at which point the dog (Sharikov) begins to become progressively "human". The human-like creature, though, still has dog tendencies (chasing after cats in the small apartment, etc) which create the funny scenes. On a deeper level, though, Bulgakov pens a scatching critique of Soviet Russian society. He knows that Sharikov is lacking what makes a human being, well, a human: a heart. Not the physical surgeon la-dee-da heart, but the moral heart that tells you when something's right or wrong. Not-so-coincidentally, pulling a few various pieces together reveals that Bulgakov thought that this was what the Soviets were repressing in the population--morals, good choices, individually, all sorts of "heart"-related concepts. Essentially, it's Sharikov's lack of morals and feelings that make us realize how very important these qualities are in humans to make us who we are. To pack just that bit of extra punch to the story, we receive the dog's perspective in both the beginning AND the end of the novel. In the beginning we keep in mind the innocent dog's expressions and interpreations of the human world around him. They are undoubtedly endearing passages. After going through the whole novel, once Sharikov the dog/human undergoes his transformation and loses his narrative voice, we again at the end are permitted a short glimpse at the dog's thoughts. THIS is what made me cry. The loss of innocence. Or, perhaps, the regaining of it after all that had been said and done. I give this my highest marks and fondest love !!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sophie

    The witty and satirical mood of the book is tangible. Whilst similar to the themes of Frankenstein, The heart of a dog not only deals with eugenics, but is a satire in its purest form. Bulgakov's work criticizes the communist creation of the new Soviet man and highlights the inconsistencies of the system through the eyes of a dog. The witty and satirical mood of the book is tangible. Whilst similar to the themes of Frankenstein, The heart of a dog not only deals with eugenics, but is a satire in its purest form. Bulgakov's work criticizes the communist creation of the new Soviet man and highlights the inconsistencies of the system through the eyes of a dog.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lynda

    A tail tale of transformation gone awry - by Sharik Once upon a time the fad was to use the names of animals, body-parts and clothes in peculiar combinations to describe a certain situation. You may have heard of some of these -- the flea’s eyebrows, the canary’s tusks, the eel’s ankle, the elephant’s instep, the clam’s garter, the snake’s hips, the kipper’s knickers, the sardine’s whiskers and the pig’s wings. These nonsensical expressions then evolved into the feline cat’s pyjamas, cat’s whiske A tail tale of transformation gone awry - by Sharik Once upon a time the fad was to use the names of animals, body-parts and clothes in peculiar combinations to describe a certain situation. You may have heard of some of these -- the flea’s eyebrows, the canary’s tusks, the eel’s ankle, the elephant’s instep, the clam’s garter, the snake’s hips, the kipper’s knickers, the sardine’s whiskers and the pig’s wings. These nonsensical expressions then evolved into the feline cat’s pyjamas, cat’s whiskers and cat’s miaow, as well as the rather charming bee’s knees. But as I am an alpha male, it's only right that I use masculine expressions in my story, such as bollocks for example, a word of Anglo-Saxon origin, meaning testicles. The word is often used figuratively Bollocks to this! or That's a load of old bollocks, generally indicating contempt for a certain task, subject or opinion. Conversely, phrases such as the dog's bollocks, top bollock(s), or more simply the bollocks refers to something which is admired, approved of or well-respected. My story is simply about me and my bollocks, or more to the point, what happened to them. It's a rather sad tale about my life and the people I trusted, and how ultimately I ended up being well and truly kicked in the bollocks! My name is Sharik. In what feels like dog-years ago now, I was a homeless mongrel of indeterminate lineage whose nasty run-in with a local cook's vat of steaming water left me with a flank covered in life-threatening burns. As I lay dog-tired, hopeless and despairing of my future, I was all too aware that my condition would not get me through another brutal Russian winter and I would no doubt die from a fatal bout of pneumonia. I don't mind telling you, I was sad as a hound dogs eye. As I was about to give up on life, a very kind stranger bent over and offered me a piece of sausage. He patted my head and told me that if I followed him, he would give me a good home. His name was Professor Preobrazhensky and he was a scientist. Hot diggity dog — was I ecstatic! I followed the Professor home and over the course of a few weeks, with food in my belly, treatment for my wounds and warmth in my bones, I was nursed back to good health. Life was good. The Professor was a gentleman and a man of refined tastes. Clearly I was a dog that was worthy of this -- after all, the Professor wouldn't bring home just any stray, would he? One evening, while I was taking a dog nap, a piece of wet cloth was wrapped around my mouth. Son of a bitch! What the hell was happening? I fought like crazy to escape my attacker. But it was no use, I was a whipped dog, fading, fading, fading into a world of blackness. When I came to, I felt terrible and was literally sick as a dog. For days this lasted; I had no idea what had happened to me. The pain was simply excruciating. Soon I learnt that my Professor, the man I had learnt to trust, was a turn dog. He didn't want me as a pet, but rather as an experiment; the phrase Try it on the dog comes to mind! That traitor removed my testicles and pituitary gland and replaced them with those of a criminal drunk from the streets! How could he? The lying, cheating hangdog! As the days turned into weeks, I started to lose my fur and my body began to take on human tendencies. I was thrust into an unfamiliar human realm. Part man, part dog, I became a man-dog by the name of Sharikov. Well...I wasn't going to let sleeping dogs lie! I'll show him not to mess with me! I'll make his life hell! I'll make him pay! Oh yes, Professor - BEWARE of THIS man-dog! And that's exactly what I did. For months I made his life hell. I reported him to authorities, trashed his apartment, raped his home help, and brought home people of ill repute. People started to question the intentions of the Professor. Suddenly he was exposed! He who lies down with dogs, rises with fleas! (view spoiler)[Soon the Professor begins to see that his creation is dangerous; that he has created something diabolical in its savagery. He has let the dogs out and lost his reputation in doing so. Unable to put up with this situation any further, the Professor decides to reverse the experiment and to return to the order of things before it occurred. He gives me back my testicles and pituitary gland and returns me to whom I was. Sharikov the man has now gone and Sharik the dog has returned. As my fully canine self I have blissfully resumed my status as a gentleman's dog. (hide spoiler)] Review comments The Heart of a Dog is a biting satire of the New Soviet man written in 1925 at the height of the NEP period, when Communism appeared to be weakening in the Soviet Union. It was banned by Soviet censors before publication. An official Russian edition did not appear until 1987, almost fifty years after Bulgakov's death. One of the main themes in The Heart of a Dog is that it is impossible to predict the outcome of an experiment involving the human psyche. The ideas of rejuvenation and eugenics, so fashionable in the 1920s, which seemed to open up incredible possibilities for "improving" and "correcting" imperfect human nature, have perhaps an even more topical ring today than ninety years ago. The second half of the twentieth century witnessed the start of gene engineering and raised the much alarming questions of possible abuses when people begin tinkering with the mechanism of the human mind. Bulgakov's story sounded this alarm as far back as the 1920s. This was a simply brilliant book. The Heart of a Dog renders the permeability between species with brilliant comic timing and sharp political commentary. Sharik is a painful lesson that a man is more than the sum of his parts, a cautionary tale that it is dangerous to assume a man can be the product of artificial nomenclature and forced ideals.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Michael Perkins

    A Dog's Life is a novella about a medical professor implanting the testes and pituitary gland of an evil man into a dog called Sharik, a feckless mutt that wanders the streets of Moscow in search of food and warmth. It's a satire of Soviet society in its foolish attempt to forcibly alter people by transplanting into them Communist ideology. The authorities figured this out and Bulgakov's manuscript was seized by the censors. Though the book was written in 1925, it was not published until 1987 an A Dog's Life is a novella about a medical professor implanting the testes and pituitary gland of an evil man into a dog called Sharik, a feckless mutt that wanders the streets of Moscow in search of food and warmth. It's a satire of Soviet society in its foolish attempt to forcibly alter people by transplanting into them Communist ideology. The authorities figured this out and Bulgakov's manuscript was seized by the censors. Though the book was written in 1925, it was not published until 1987 and still resonated with Russian readers because much of society had not changed. (See link below to Svetlana Alexievich's brilliant book to get the story of why this is still so). The book reads like a horror story to me that brought to mind Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde and the Island of Doctor Moreau as a dark cautionary tale of the dangers of trying to manipulate the natural world and human nature that results in unintended consequences. =========== https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

  27. 5 out of 5

    E. G.

    Chronology Introduction A Note on the Text Further Reading --A Dog's Heart Notes Chronology Introduction A Note on the Text Further Reading --A Dog's Heart Notes

  28. 5 out of 5

    Privada

    What a brilliant piece of Russian literature 'The Heart of a Dog' by Mikhail Bulgakov is. Highly recommended to all my friends on here. This is one I'll most certainly be picking up again. What a brilliant piece of Russian literature 'The Heart of a Dog' by Mikhail Bulgakov is. Highly recommended to all my friends on here. This is one I'll most certainly be picking up again.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Fede

    A little gem of modern Russian literature by the author of 'The Master and Margarita': provokingly hilarious, a short novel which displays the same witty satire he fully developed in his famous masterpiece. A parody, of course, but deadly serious at its core. An ambitious doctor lusting for fame and glory transplants the testicles and pituitary gland of a dead man into a stray dog; the creature survives, but what follows is certainly not what its creator has in mind: as the dog turns into a man, A little gem of modern Russian literature by the author of 'The Master and Margarita': provokingly hilarious, a short novel which displays the same witty satire he fully developed in his famous masterpiece. A parody, of course, but deadly serious at its core. An ambitious doctor lusting for fame and glory transplants the testicles and pituitary gland of a dead man into a stray dog; the creature survives, but what follows is certainly not what its creator has in mind: as the dog turns into a man, both physically and mentally, the dead human subject's revolutionary tendencies start to emerge, making a shambles in the doctor's apartment block. The horrified Frankenstein-like scientist reluctantly admits the failure of the experiment, and the creature's animal nature is therefore hurriedly restored. The setting is Moscow on the eve of the Soviet era, a time of transition which was already making its victims when Bulgakov wrote this book. The hybrid creature's aim is indeed to rid himself of the doctor and take control of the building by establishing a Soviet committee; the other tenants' passive behaviour mirrors the actual helplessness of the Russian people as the Soviet utopia was being turned into the Soviet nightmare (the book was published in 1925 and immediately seized by the authorities). From Revolution to slavery. Bulgakov was possibly the most talented Russian satirist of his time, an era in which satire usually led straight to death or detention (life in a Gulag was often worse than death. Moreover, he was an excellent storyteller, one whose literary skills went far beyond the boundaries of genre. Just like ''The Master and Margarita'', this novella is a remarkable mosaic of tones and undertones, fully developed characters and subtle hints for further reflection, with a perfect balance of action and description. Even the dialogues are delightfully funny. Those who loved Bulgakov's most famous novel will adore this one-hour-and-a-half-book. If you still haven't read anything by him, "Heart of a Dog" would be a good introduction to his work.

  30. 5 out of 5

    WhatIReallyRead

    Frankenstein meets Flowers for Algernon in 1924 Soviet Moscow. Brilliant, really. Bulgakov to me is a bridge between classical XIX century Russian writers and Soviet literature. He was 27 at the time of the Revolution, so his writing gives us an insight into what the early Soviet era felt like to a person born in the Russian Empire. Frankenstein meets Flowers for Algernon in 1924 Soviet Moscow. Brilliant, really. Bulgakov to me is a bridge between classical XIX century Russian writers and Soviet literature. He was 27 at the time of the Revolution, so his writing gives us an insight into what the early Soviet era felt like to a person born in the Russian Empire.

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