“A Dog’s Heart: An Appalling Story” by Mikhail Bulgakov, a Review by Thomas Ukinski

Brilliant Soviet-era Writer

Mikhail Bulgakov was a brilliant writer who was never appreciated in his lifetime. The majority of his fiction and plays were never published or performed until many years after his death, due to the blindness and hypocrisy of the Soviet censors. This book details the transformation of a good natured but mistreated dog–subjected to a hideous experiment in which his brain and genitals are replaced by those of a criminal–into the prototypic “Soviet” man: lazy, cowardly, libidinous, and ready to utilize Bolshevik doctrine to justify appropriating the property of others and satisfying his base desires. He becomes the foil of the aristocratic surgeon who has “created” him, causing the surgeon such vexation as to regret his experiment and resort to a drastic stratagem to rid himself of his “son.” Bulgakov was masterful at creating unforgettable characters and spinning mordant dialogue. “Heart of a Dog” is a lesser work than such masterpieces as “Master and Margarita” and “A Dead Man’s Memoir (A Theatrical Novel),” but all of his works–in fiction, essay and drama–are amazing.

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