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Heart of a Dog Paperback – January 21, 1994
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About the Author
Ginsburg is renowned for her many translations and adaptations of eastern European tales.
Top Customer Reviews
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...
Meanwhile, Bulgakov continued to amass what must be one of the world's great hordes of literary work unpublished in the lifetime of an author.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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Bulgakov is Russia's gift to the rest of the world even if they punished him for his ingenuity. This short novel is, like all his work, filled with surprises and keeps you on the... Read morePublished 29 days ago by Alma Pasic
The best political satire ever written about Communist ideology. Great book.Published 1 month ago by Yelena P. Francis
Kept me enticed so to read the book in one sitting, what was next .. Can't wait to start The master and MargaretiaPublished 1 month ago by Deirdre Moroney
Satirical look at life styles, social and economic order and changes brought about by the Socialist revolution of 1917 in Russia. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Cadance
Interesting read. It would of helped if I was more familiar with Russian social means, but some humor in the story makes it interesting. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Mr. Hungry
Only giving this two stars instead of one because the book shipped on time. I had to read this play for a class. It sucked.Published 4 months ago by Donna
A terrifically creepy, sad, and funny satire of the time. I had never heard of this book before I picked it up and I'm sorry that it's taken me so long. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Delta Stet
Five stars for the story, 0 for the formatting. Was a pain in the arse to read, hard-wired line endings on my Kindle Paperwhite, every second line was one or two words long, like... Read morePublished 9 months ago by alan wilson