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The Heart of a Dog by Mikhail Bulgakov
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The Heart of a Dog (original 1925; edition 1997)

by Mikhail Bulgakov, Michael Glenny

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1,854293,727 (3.84)1 / 69
Member:varwenea
Title:The Heart of a Dog
Authors:Mikhail Bulgakov
Other authors:Michael Glenny
Info:Harvill Press (1997), Paperback
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:None

Work details

Heart of a Dog by Mikhail Bulgakov (1925)

  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 (24)  French (2)  Italian (1)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (29)
Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
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 !! ( )
  Proustitutes | Jun 11, 2015 |
Exactly 3 years after obtaining the book I finally read it :-)

A great little book, that I read in one sitting and, if it hadn't been 140 pages, even in one breath. That's how much I liked the book.
It starts with the prelude to an experiment on a dog, the experiment itself and the aftermath. The whole story is told with the Russian Revolution going on / just passed. It is a horriffic story , both because of the thought of such an experiment, as well as the description of the strangeness of the period in time.

I wish I had read it earlier.

Recommended for those who like to read Russians and also like a bit of horror. ( )
  BoekenTrol71 | Sep 25, 2014 |
It is not even reasonable to expect me to pass this book on the library shelves. First of all, it's by the author of The Master and Margarita, which I loved. Second, it's published by my darling Melville House Press. I very nearly purchased it during my last spree on their website. (Actually, I can't be certain that I didn't, as that last purchase is still sitting, unwrapped, on my kitchen table. Don't ask. I have issues.)

Heart of a Dog is a Frankenstein-type story set in early post-Soviet revolution Russia, in a doctor's home office that seems to be the last island of aristocratic life surrounded by a rising sea of comrade proletariat. In this story, the doctor's monster is a stray dog, rescued from the street to the lap of luxury before being implanted with human glands in an experimental surgery -- resulting in his shocking transformation to a vulgar, impulsive, vodka-swilling man.

I couldn't help feeling for every one of the characters in this book (at least at times), even when some of them were behaving very badly. Delightful, clever, and fun. Highly recommended. ( )
  greeniezona | Sep 20, 2014 |
A biological experiment carried out by an eminent Moscow scientist goes horribly wrong and turns a likeable mongrel into an obnoxious human being and would-be follower of the Communist party. This novella reads like a satirical, darkly comic parody of Frankenstein. Like Shostakovich, Bulgakov kept an ambiguous relationship with the Soviet authorities. If his magnum opus The Master and Margarita were to be compared to one of Shostakovich's symphonies (the bleak 4th, perhaps, or the enigmatic 5th), Heart of a Dog would be one of the jazz or ballet suites - slighter, lighter but no less hard-hitting. ( )
  JosephCamilleri | Sep 9, 2014 |
I read an article about literature and censorship in the Soviet Union and the author said that sometimes the novels were so highly coded that only a few people would understand it. I felt like that for large portions of this one, I got the meta-picture but the details all felt like social and political commentary that I completely failed to understand. This was for bookclub so I will see if those more clever than me got more from it.
  amyem58 | Jul 16, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (58 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mikhail Bulgakovprimary 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
Melander, VivecaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Whoo-oo-oo-oo-hooh-hoo-oo! Oh, look at me, I am perishing in this gateway.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0802150594, Paperback)

This early novella from Mikhail Bulgakov, published in 1925, already shows the surreal comic genius that later produced The Master and Margarita, the writer's masterpiece. A kind of Frankenstein parable, Heart of a Dog is the story of a stray dog that gains a human intelligence after a prominent Moscow professor transplants human glands into the unfortunate canine's body.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:36 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

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)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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