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Heart of a Dog (1925)

by Mikhail Bulgakov

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,475494,160 (3.87)1 / 96
This hilarious, brilliantly inventive novel by the author of The Master and Margarita tells the story of a scroungy Moscow mongrel named Sharik. Thanks to the skills of a renowned Soviet scientist and the transplanted pituitary gland and testes of a petty criminal, Sharik is transformed into a lecherous, vulgar man who spouts Engels and inevitably finds his niche in the bureaucracy as the government official in charge of purging the city of cats.… (more)
  1. 30
    The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (Daimyo)
  2. 10
    Lives of the Monster Dogs by Kirsten Bakis (knomad)
  3. 00
    The Island of Dr. Moreau by H. G. Wells (Michael.Rimmer)
  4. 00
    Sirius: A Fantasy of Love and Discord by Olaf Stapledon (Michael.Rimmer)
    Michael.Rimmer: Both feature dogs endowed with human intelligence, though they seem to inhabit different ends of the moral spectrum.

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English (42)  French (2)  Italian (2)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (49)
Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
Books can be funny, but rarely do they evoke the kind of gut-busting laughter that you might see in the audience of a comedy club or a Will Ferrell movie (I'll never forget the chorus of chortles in the theater during Winter Passing). Heart of a Dog, however, is a whole other animal.

Despite the fact that Mikhail Bulgakov wrote and set his work in the Soviet Union of the 1920's, where tension among the establishment was reaching its pre-purge peak (and you can certainly feel it throughout the novella), Sharik, a stray dog wandering the streets of Moscow, is far more concerned for his own well-being than the state of his country. His progression from a starving, flea-bitten wreck to a bizarre science experiment is fun to follow, and once the experiment takes place, the narrative really takes off.

While there are certainly political statements being made in Heart of a Dog, you don't have to be familiar with, or even care about, Soviet politics to enjoy it. It's a very quick read, and if you intend to someday read The Master and Margarita, I highly recommend checking this out first. ( )
  bgramman | May 9, 2020 |
Professor Preobrazhensky finds a hurt dog on the streets of Moscow and takes it home. The dog quickly gets used to the good life he has as Sharik with the Professor, but the Professor and his assistant Doctor Bormenthal are actually working on a project – and for that project, they need the dog. When the circumstances are just right, the dog will be the subject of their experiment.

Heart of a Dog is a bit like a Russian take on Frankenstein, with a healthy dose of satire and criticism of the Soviet political system/Stalinism. I enjoyed it a lot.

Read more [with slight spoilers] on my blog: https://kalafudra.com/2020/02/05/heart-of-a-dog-mikhail-bulgakov/ ( )
  kalafudra | Feb 19, 2020 |
Bulgakov wrote this in 1925, but his hilarious and ferocious satire remained unpublished by the Soviets until 1987, four years from their end. I read ten pages in Russian.* Sharik the dog develops, learns human words, a new one about every five minutes, at first mostly gutter words, which he had heard and stored when only a dog. His feet are too small for socks, and he has lower class human taste, his colossal appetite for herring (62).
Phillip Phillipovich, a scientist, thought that giving the dog human hypophysis would rejuvenate it, but he learns it humanizes the canine. The scientist says, “Now, as I walk in the street, I look at dogs with secret horror. Who knows what is hidden in their heads.”
Late in the novella Sharik must register, part of the myriad satires on communism,
as Sharikov, first name Polygraph. He is registered as “originating,” not born; then “‘I won’t go to no wars,’ Sharikov yipped”(76).
From Russian I saved mostly Ch II, which begins that Sharik need be taught to read, since in Moscow one learns it willy-nilly, and meat smells a mile away. “учиться читать совершенно ни к нему, когда мясо и так пахнет за версту.”(p.11, or 52 in Russian)
The scientist advises the Doctor at dinner on knowing when to eat, and what to talk about at dinner. “If you care about your digestion, don’t talk about Bolshevism or medicine at dinner..And Heaven preserve! Don’t read any Soviet newspapers before dinner.” Dr., “ But there are no others.” “That’s just it. I carried put more than thirty tests at my hospital. Those I compelled to read Pravda had lowered weight, rotten appetite, depressed state of mind”(33).
Phillipovich complains of the effects of the Bolshevik revolution, “I have lived in this house since 1903. Not even one pair of galoshes were missing until March, 1917. One fine day in March, all the galoshes disappeared, including two pair of mine, also three canes, a coat, and the porter’s samovar…But I ask you why, when this whole business started, did everyone start going up the marble staircase in muddy galoshes and felt boots? Why was the rug removed from the front stairway? Doe Karl Marx forbid rugs on stairs?”(37).
Sharikov gains public employment, as “Head of the subsection for purging the city of Moscow from stray animals (cats, etc) of the Moscow Communal Property Association”(110). The cats are made into coats, or toy squirrels.
The dog, head of the Purge subsection, accuses Phillipovich of throwing Engels into the fire, and various other anti-Bolshevik acts and speeches—which we saw with reading before dinner.

*Собачье сердце, by Булгаков. собрание сочинений +3. 46-137. 1987 ( )
  AlanWPowers | Jan 20, 2020 |
This is a most unusual book written from the point of view of a dog that is transformed Frankenstein-like into a man after receiving a transplanted pituitary gland and testicle. Written by a Russian author in 1925, it is also a satire of the Russian revolution. ( )
  M_Clark | Jul 7, 2019 |
Ho scoperto questo libro l’ho qui su GR e quando ho letto la trama mi ha incuriosito. Si legge in un pomeriggio sia perché è breve sia perché è scorrevole. E’ ambientato nella Russia dei primi del Novecento ed è interpretabile come una metafora ironica di quel periodo.
La storia è quella di un medico che decide di trasformare un cane, raccolto dalla strada, in un essere umano con un complicato intervento chirurgico. I risultati però non sono quelli sperati e il cane Pallino (che da uomo sarà Pallini) ne combinerà di tutti i colori.
Il cane-uomo impersona tutti i difetti della società ricca dell’epoca ed è, probabilmente, per questo che il libro è stato pubblicato molto dopo la sua nascita avvenuta nel 1920, ad esempio in Italia è uscito solo nel 1967 .
A me è piaciuto molto sia per la sua ironia che per le riflessioni che comunque consente di fare non sono sui regimi politici russi di inizio novecento ma anche sulla manipolazione delle vite e intenzioni altrui. Consigliato per una lettura veloce, satirica e ironica.
( )
  Feseven78 | Apr 17, 2019 |
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» Add other authors (56 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bulgakov, Mikhailprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aplin, HughTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bromfield, AndrewTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fondse, MarkoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ginsburg, MirraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Glenny, MichaelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Henstra, FrisoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McMillan, RoyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Melander, VivecaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reschke, ThomasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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