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Heart of a Dog

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  45,159 ratings  ·  2,272 reviews
This satirical novel tells the story of the surgical transformation of a dog into a man, and is an obvious criticism of Soviet society, especially the new rich that arose after the Bolshevik revolution.
Paperback, 123 pages
Published January 21st 1994 by Grove Press (first published 1925)
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Alten No, that's not correct. "Heart of a Dog" was released in the summer of 1925 in the "Diaboliad" collection, but was quickly seized. It was re-released …moreNo, that's not correct. "Heart of a Dog" was released in the summer of 1925 in the "Diaboliad" collection, but was quickly seized. It was re-released in 1926.

Source: Julie Curtis: Michail Bulgakow - Manuskripte brennen nicht. Eine Biographie in Briefen und Tagebüchern, S. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1991, S. 86(less)
Natalie Hi Wintermute314,
In the audible version, the translator was Michael Karpelson. I thought it was very good. On Amazon, i found…more
Hi Wintermute314,
In the audible version, the translator was Michael Karpelson. I thought it was very good. On Amazon, i found which seemed to be well-reviewed by native Russian speakers (I am not, I am native English/Ukrainian). The link though, that I have suggested is available in paperback only :(. Hope this helps, nevertheless.(less)

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"The whole horror of the situation is that he now has a human heart, not a dog's heart. And about the rottenest heart in all creation!"

The recipe for success a la Bulgakov:

# Take a street dog, hungry and flea-ridden and wickedly smart (yes, he can even read - you gotta do that to survive on the cruel winter Moscow streets!).

# Take a brilliant and renown professor with a knack for brain surgery/transplants and desire to advance science.

# Add to the mix a dead good-for-nothing delinquent alcohol
Ahmad Sharabiani
Собачье сердце = Sobach'e serdtse = The Heart of a Dog, Mikhail Afanasevich‬ Bulgakov

Heart of a Dog is a novel by Russian author Mikhail Bulgakov. Moscow, 1924. While foraging for trash one winter day, a stray dog is found by a cook and scalded with boiling water. Lying forlorn in a doorway, the dog awaits his end awash in self-pity. To his surprise, a successful surgeon, Filipp Filippovich Preobrazhensky, arrives and offers the dog a piece of sausage. Overjoyed, the dog follows Filip back to h
Henry Avila
Aug 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
A dog with no real name feebly walks his last steps in the cold winters day in Moscow of the 1920's, unloved like many strays in the uncaring city, hungry, filthy with no future, he has not eaten in two days, injured by a man full of hate throwing boiling water at him which burns his side , why ? Just a nuisance to all businessmen, the wandering mutt needed only a little nourishment nobody else gives a second look towards the dying, suffering two year old, the whimpering animal last hours are ne ...more
Jun 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A man with the Heart of a Dog still bites

This is the most disgusting review I ever wrote! Read till the end to be grossed out :D

Thank you for this amazing picture Kristopher and check out his great review :

Bulgakov‘s satire starts with a hungry and injured street dog in the cold winter night. Suddenly, a gentleman turns up, who feeds him and takes him home. He turns out to be a famous and wealthy medical professor who rejuvenates people by hormonal manipulations. As soon
Oct 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My favourite kind of satire is not laugh-out-loud funny; it's unsettling, and disturbing, and beautifully weird. Bulgakov brings it, with this short and vicious fable about a dog who is implanted with the genitals and pituitary gland of a deceased convict, transforming him into a bestial hybrid. It's like reading an early-Soviet Chris Morris script – in fact, what this book made me think of more than anything was this creepy sketch from Blue Jam. Bulgakov seems to offer a similarly discomfiting ...more
Glenn Russell

Can you say "Booby Brash Bolsheviks" three times fast, comrades? If not, you can surely howl with laughter. Ooow-ow-ooow-owow!

Operating on animals to effect a transform in a humanly direction has been around for some time. In novels, that is. There’s H.G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau published in 1896 and Kristen Bakis’ less well known 1997 Lives of the Monster Dogs, a bizarre, creepy story of humanoid German shepherds strolling Manhattan as rich aristocrats.

Another such novel on the list,
Richard Derus
Oct 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rating: 4*of five

The Publisher Says: A new edition of Bulgakov’s fantastical precursor to The Master and Margarita, part of Melville House’s reissue of the Bulgakov backlist in Michael Glenny’s celebrated translations.

A key work of early modernism, this is the superbly comic story of a Soviet scientist and a scroungy Moscow mongrel named Sharik. Attempting a medical first, the scientist transplants the glands of a petty criminal into the dog and, with that, turns a distinctly worryingly human an
Steven Godin
Nov 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Dog's Heart (or, The Heart of a Dog) still bites strongly with sharp teeth after so much time, and, unlike a lot of other Russian golden oldies that feel old, this could have been written yesterday.
Bulgakov's satire of life in the early years of the Soviet Union cost himself dear, and it has not lost any of its provocative power. I even preferred this to his ever so popular Master and Margarita.

Giving a reading of A Dog's Heart in his Moscow apartment - March 1925, he introduced to a group of
Sep 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Mary by: Kris
Shelves: fiction, 2012, russia
What does it mean to be human? To be an individual? How unfortunate we must be, us, merely to be human beings. We can never escape what we truly are. We can nip and tuck our way around our flaws, but humans inevitably are always their own disastrous downfalls and worst nightmares.

Heart of a Dog is, before anything else, FUN. It's just really damn entertaining. We start with a sort of Woody Allen neurotic type stream of concsiousness narrative from a stray dog, Sharik, who is swooped up by doctor
Nat K

”Such an eccentric! Why, he need only blink an eye and he could have the finest dog in town! But maybe I am handsome? I guess I’m lucky!”

My humour and I seem to have parted company recently. I was desperate to start the New Year with a “happy” story. Plus I needed something short and snappy to get my reading mojo back, as that seems to have walked down the road with my humour.

“Happy” I could not find. But it popped into my head to re-visit Heart of a Dog. This is another book (along with Clive B
Jan 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
Ronald Reagan used to alarm his Soviet counterparts by saying that surely they'd both unite against an invasion from Mars.
-- Christopher Hitchens


In Soviet Russia, dog's testicles lick you.

What happens when a Russian stray dog meets a early Soviet doctor? Testicles and pituitary glands get involved and a New Soviet man is made. Part Kafkaesque transformation story, part mockery of eugenics and early Soviet attempts at creating the ideal Russian man, Bulgakov's novella is not quite as brilliant a
MJ Nicholls
Mikhail Bulgakov is one of the most overlooked Russian satirists/geniuses of the 20th century.

I’ve read two works of his now, and both have floored me with the scathing cleverness of their satire, the sheer originality of their ideas, and the fact that both these Russian texts – written during Stalin’s reign – are instantly accessible to the modern reader.

The Heart of a Dog (1925) is a short blast against the ‘New Soviet Man’ – a comment on the declining power of Communism and the changing tides
Sidharth Vardhan
That of a stray dog is one of the hardest lives of all. Always suffering from hunger and being forced to live under open sky come rain or winds. And they are always afraid of people around them - a fear probably born of some violent experience.

Our protagonist is one such dog. The first-person narrative of dog in first few chapter will put a knowing smile on face of anyone who has observed dogs closely.

What follows is a cruel experiement in which some of dog's body parts are replaced with that of
If your only acquaintance with Bulgakov is Master and Margarita then Heart of a Dog will come as a surprise. It is one of several science out of control, possibly influenced by Jules Verne and H.G. Wells stories.

However what is not to like about this mad scientist story about how things go horribly wrong when the pituitary gland and testicles of a dead man are transplanted into a stray dog? Behold the Soviet new man constructed from death and a dog. No wonder that the opera going, traditionally
Paquita Maria Sanchez
I'm not even sure where to begin...there is so much going on in this little novella (particularly concerning the Russian government and its sociopolitical policies in the 1920's and beyond), that I'm be afraid that discussing it in detail would only serve to highlight my ignorance on the subject. So here it is! Me highlighting my ignorance on the subject...

I decided to read this story simultaneously with The Master and Margarita with the hope of completing The Heart of a Dog first. I did this na
Jon Nakapalau
Aug 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics, favorites
This book has been on my 'bucket list' for a long time. Part allegory and part dystopian fiction it examines the connection between class struggle and the role social stratification plays in the formation of society. Poligraf Poligrafovich Sharikov was a 'dog' who was forced to become a 'man' through an experiment he had no control over. But what kind of man he becomes is a question that must be looked at from many differing perspectives. No wonder this novel was banned in the Soviet Union for 6 ...more
Mar 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book.
Unlike anything i have ever read.
Petra X has permanently sun-burned eyes
Totally amazing book. More accessible than The Master and Margarita but just as evil in its way. ...more
Jacob Overmark
How not to train your dog

There are many breeds of dogs, and humans –
Each come with certain qualities, each serve a certain purpose.

Bulgakov, the doctor, examines the Frankenstein theme, laying bare the nature of the revolutionary, what is imbedded in his heart, what lives in his brain.

You can take a man out of the streets but you can’t take the streets out of the man.

This is the conclusion, after a ground-breaking organ transplantation, that leave us with a talking, swearing, boozing and gener
Anthony Vacca
Sep 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
It ain't easy being a dog. No, it ain't easy. Especially when you have to rummage the streets of Moscow, avoiding the bitter proletariat who will kick you and curse you and throw boiling water on your hide, just because you want a bite to eat. And you want to be a good doggie, make no mistake. Everyone wants a friend, even dogs. So you take kindness from whatever hand that offers; and how could anyone expect a good dog like you to do otherwise? Who cares if the pampered hand you have to lick is ...more
Sep 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
One of the great tragedies of life is that so few people outside Russia have read this, and that I can't imagine any translation could even come close to capturing the setting and language of the original.

Professor Preobrazhensky is searching for a way to restore youth. In his research process, he experiments with replacing a dog's hypothalamus with that of a man, but instead of making the dog younger, the procedure gradually turns the dog into a man, with horrifying results. The book is an expl
May 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mother-rus
There is a photograph of me sitting in a gutter in Paris reading this novel. I am rather skinny in the photo. What isn't conveyed is that I was losing my mind. I was abroad and it was a mistake. There was considerable business requiring my immediate attention back home.

There I was. All was resolved upon my return. I think about the novel periodically, especially given the currency of Bulgakov in certain circles.

It would be pithy to suppose that this portal concerning transformation was crucial
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 creatu
Oct 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sophie by: Liz
The witty and satirical mood of the book is tangible. Whilst similar to the themes of Frankenstein, The heart of a dog not only deals with eugenics, but is a satire in its purest form. Bulgakov's work criticizes the communist creation of the new Soviet man and highlights the inconsistencies of the system through the eyes of a dog. ...more
A tail tale of transformation gone awry - by Sharik

Once upon a time the fad was to use the names of animals, body-parts and clothes in peculiar combinations to describe a certain situation. You may have heard of some of these -- the flea’s eyebrows, the canary’s tusks, the eel’s ankle, the elephant’s instep, the clam’s garter, the snake’s hips, the kipper’s knickers, the sardine’s whiskers and the pig’s wings. These nonsensical expressions then evolved into the feline cat’s pyjamas, cat’s whiske
Michael Perkins
Dec 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Dog's Life is a novella about a medical professor implanting the testes and pituitary gland of an evil man into a dog called Sharik, a feckless mutt that wanders the streets of Moscow in search of food and warmth. It's a satire of Soviet society in its foolish attempt to forcibly alter people by transplanting into them Communist ideology. The authorities figured this out and Bulgakov's manuscript was seized by the censors.

Though the book was written in 1925, it was not published until 1987 an
E. G.
A Note on the Text
Further Reading

--A Dog's Heart

Sep 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a brilliant piece of Russian literature 'The Heart of a Dog' by Mikhail Bulgakov is. Highly recommended to all my friends on here. This is one I'll most certainly be picking up again. ...more
Jan 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
A little gem of modern Russian literature by the author of 'The Master and Margarita': provokingly hilarious, a short novel which displays the same witty satire he fully developed in his famous masterpiece.

A parody, of course, but deadly serious at its core. An ambitious doctor lusting for fame and glory transplants the testicles and pituitary gland of a dead man into a stray dog; the creature survives, but what follows is certainly not what its creator has in mind: as the dog turns into a man,
Frankenstein meets Flowers for Algernon in 1924 Soviet Moscow.

Brilliant, really. Bulgakov to me is a bridge between classical XIX century Russian writers and Soviet literature. He was 27 at the time of the Revolution, so his writing gives us an insight into what the early Soviet era felt like to a person born in the Russian Empire.
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Mikhail Bulgakov was born in Kyiv, Russian Empire (today Ukraine) on May 15 1891. He studied and briefly practised medicine and, after indigent wanderings through revolutionary Russia and the Caucasus, he settled in Moscow in 1921. His sympathetic portrayal of White characters in his stories, in the plays The Days of the Turbins (The White Guard), which enjoyed great success at the Moscow Art Thea ...more

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