(translated by Michael Glenny)
Written in 1925, banned in Russia; first published in 1968 – 25 years after Bulgakov’s death.
It is 120 rip-roaring pages. Not a word is wasted. It is satire, that is also laugh out loud funny.
A professor takes a mangy stray dog home. Keeps it and feeds it up so it is a healthy dog again. A dog that can think and understand the world…
The professor – with the help of a medical doctor friend – eventually get their hands on a recently deceased human. They transplant the testicles and pituitary gland of the human into the dog. The dog, begins to speak – among its first words are “Bloody bastard“, directed at the professor – walk upright and dress. He wants his independence…and a job…and a wife.
…and away we go. Sheer brilliance from first to last. In one sense, it is nonsense, in another, it is serious political allegory.
It is absurd. I loved it.
(in reading about the book I learn that in March 2011, Heart of a Dog was staged at the University of Leeds, directed by James Ahearne and Matthew Beaumont. Fancy!)