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Heart of a Dog Paperback – January 21, 1994


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 84 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; Reprint edition (January 21, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802150594
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802150592
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #62,085 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Dystopian novelette by Mikhail Bulgakov, written in Russian in 1925 as Sobachye serdtse. It was published posthumously in the West in 1968, both in Russian and in translation, and in the Soviet Union in 1987. The book is a satirical examination of one of the goals of the October Revolution of 1917: to create a new breed of man, uncorrupted by the past and above petit bourgeois concerns. In addressing this subject The Heart of a Dog savages the rigid Soviet mind-set, science fiction, and a pseudoscientific theory of the 1920s that held out the promise of sexual rejuvenation through surgical transplantation of monkey glands. -- The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature

Customer Reviews

Such story has this story become.
Brandon Price
Heart of a Dog by Mikhail Bulgakov is a science fiction novel, satirizing the Soviet Union.
Sweetpea
I thought the satire very pointed, the humor endearing, and the premise absurdly good.
Bryan Byrd

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

163 of 169 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 27, 2001
Format: Paperback
From a native Russian speaker, just a few remarks which hopefully will help you understand the book better:
1. Professor Preobrazhensky is modeled on professor Pavlov (of the salivating dogs fame), who himself is well known for a few remarks such as "for the kind of experiment the Communists are conducting on Russia I wouldn't sacrifice even a frog" and "a revolution is not an excuse for being 20 minutes late for work" (to a lab assistant who got caught in street shooting).
2. The book lashes out - VIOLENTLY - at working class, at lumpenproletariat (and in Soviet Russia these two terms were dangerously close for much of the 20th century). Please remember that when you're reading about Sharikov - the caricature of a heavily-drinking, crude Soviet worker (if you've ever spent time in small industrial towns in Russia, you'll be able to understand this book easily)
3. Sharik is a cliche nickname for dogs in Russia (something like Spot). Sharikov is akin to a dog taking the last name Spotter for himself.
4. Polygraph Polygraphovich sounds as ridiculous in English as it does in Russian :)
Some of my anglophone friends had problems with this 1925 book. Just trying to be helpful...
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75 of 78 people found the following review helpful By Joanna Daneman #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 21, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mikhail Bulgakov, best known for his brilliant novel "The Master and Margarita" was steeped in the theatrical craft. When his books were censored, he wrote a wild, heartfelt letter to authorities in Soviet Russia, asking that, if they were not to be allowed to publish his work, would they then assign him to work in theater, even as a lowly stagehand. In one of Stalin's capricious moves, Bulgakov was, indeed, assigned to work as an assistant director at a Moscow theater.
Meanwhile, Bulgakov continued to amass what must be one of the world's great hordes of literary work unpublished in the lifetime of an author. "Heart of a Dog" is probably his most viciously anti-Soviet, anti-Proletariat work, and it reads like a cross between Orwell's "Animal Farm" and Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" but with Bulgakov's intense sarcasm and humor thrown in. The book is so dramatic, it's almost impossible to read it without seeing it run like a film or play behind your eyes as you read it.
A professor (whose Russian name is a play on the scientist Pavlov) adopts a mongrel dog. The dog Sharik (Fido, Rover...) is grateful! His life on the street has been hard, he's been kicked, scalded with hot water and he is starving. The professor feeds him well. Ah, he's gaining weight and healing up. What a nice man! A god, even, well, to a dog. But wait a minute! The professor, noted surgeon that he is, is preparing to operate. He seizes the dog....
And then we see the results of the professor's cruel experiment. A dog gets a human brain portion and begins to develop as a human. But he isn't a nice friendly, tail-wagging human. Oh, no. He's low, a cur, yes, a dog of a man who chases cats uncontrollably, pinches women's bottoms and drinks like a fish (oops mixed metaphor there.
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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Kendall VINE VOICE on May 25, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's just something about those Russians. I guess because they've had to put up with so much turmoil, for so long, historically; or it could be those long Russian winters; but for whatever reason they have produced a steady stream of excellent satirists for the past two hundred years. Refer to Nikolai Leskov's LAUGHTER AND GRIEF, for a mid 19th century examination of the phenomenon from someone who first noticed it. Leskov's narrator, Vatahvskov, states in a conversation amongst his colleagues that the feature most singular in Russian society is "its abundance of unpleasant surprises."
Which brings me to Bulgakov and to HEART OF A DOG, for it is a novella full of "unpleasant surprises," both happening to and instigated by, Bulgakov's singular literary creation, Sharik (aka Mr. Sharik, aka Citizen Sharikov, aka Polygraph Polygraphovich Sharikov, commisar of cat control, etc.) Bulgakov takes an absurd situation (think of Gogol's "nose" wandering around the streets of St. Petersburg for comparison) and crafts it into a wonderful parody of the societal madhouse that was 30s Moscow under the party's intolerable decrees. His is a portrait of political correctness run amok. Citizen Shvonder, the representation of all things banal about the collectivist mentality of the era is the Bulgakov's primary target in this regard. His jealous rage at the fact that professor Phillipov is living the high life, while he and his ilk are sharing one room apartments, remains comically ineffectual. It was Bulgakov's way at getting back at all of the party appartchiks that were in fact causing him a great deal of consternation and physical hardship at the time.
A reviewer who was critical of this work as being too much akin to a Chagall painting was drawing an accurate analogy.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Tim Dough on December 15, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Don't buy this edition! This is a terrible translation; neither the translator nor the original copyright date is listed. Poorly edited. Full of typos. The quality seems like that of a pirated publication. This is the first such purchase in many years that we discarded rather than to pass it along after reading.

The novella, however, is worth reading, and Bulgakov wrote "Heart of a Dog" in a play version as well. Make sure the edition you purchase has an acknowledged/credited translator.
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