Heart of a Dog by Mikhail Bulgakov (1925)

21 December 2011

Read ‘Heart of a Dog’, a 1925 satire by Soviet writer Mikhail Bulgakov, a short sharp parable on early Soviet life: A stray Moscow dog is adopted by a maverick scientist who transplants into it the pituitary gland and testes of a proletarian killed in a brawl. The fact it’s a rough drunk worker is important because the dog slowly mutates into a semi-man, with a combination of chav manners and dog habits, to the horror of the scientist and his bourgeois household. Redolent of an HG Wells short story – scientist develops world-beating procedure in his dining room! – but flavoured with the alien habits and speech patterns of Russia, and with an extra layer of strangeness because the whole thing is a satire on the apparent failure of the Bolshevik experiment to create new ‘Soviet’ man, an experiment, Bulgakov implies, which is doomed to crude & violent failure.

‘Heart of a Dog’ on Amazon

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