When a respected surgeon decides to transplant human body parts into a stray dog, he creates a monster - drunken, profligate, aggressive and selfish. It seems the worst aspects of the donor have been transplanted as well. As his previously well-regulated home descends into riotous chaos, the doctor realises he will have to try to reverse the operation; but the dog isn't so keen....
Wild, uproarious and deliriously comic, Bulgakov's short novel is at once a comment on the problems of 1920s Russia and a lasting satire on human nature.
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Public Domain (P)2010 Naxos Audiobooks
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"A fine piece of art!"
A fine piece of art - delivers a serious (satirical) message about the state of the Russian Revolution circa 1925 as well as being an excellent, entertaining free-standing story. Would suggest reading a history of the novel prior to reading to help put it in context - without knowing the date of publication, subsequent manuscript seizure by the Soviet secret police, and prevention of publication until 1968, the novel may seem less meaningful.
As well as being a wonderful satire of the Russian Revolution, this story is also another take on the Prometheus mythology, and can be seen to be related to the Faustus story.
Performance is wonderful - just to hear his rendition of the dog howl is worth the price of admission.
Well worth the read.
"Bulgakov is remarkable"
In the course of listening to both Master and Margarita and then A Dog's Heart, I have completely and utterly fallen in love with Bulkagov. A critic of Soviet society and a masterful story-teller, he is a joy to behold even as he conveys a society so utterly devoid of life and so bereft of misery. Do yourself a favor and give this a listen and The Master and Margarita, both available via Audible. They are a wondrous, ponderous, hilarious, and even heart-breaking things to behold.
"Fun and interesting"
This is a very clever and insightful story that is really about the hypocrisy of life in the early Soviet Union, and the inability of man to create a communist utopia. The surface story is about a cultured surgeon who transplants the pituitary gland of a good-for-nothing human who dies (presumably of alchoholism) into a mongrel dog. The dog starts to take on human characteristics--but not those the doctor expects. (This echos another book I just read which involves early Soviet fascination with hair-brained scientific/medical research into things like eternal life.)
The book is very funny, and the narrator is pitch perfect for all of the voices, especially the dog.
"Great Translation of the great Bulgakov"
My memorable moment in "A Dog' Heart" was that Bulgakov characterises the dying aristocratic epoch with its manners and traditions. Juxtaposed with the new brutal regime (well he did see bolshevism establish itself with the Civil War), i liked the when the protagonist Preobrazhenskiy says "you can't force people to do something [with violence], you can only suggest..."Another was his depiction of people as if he knew them heart and soul. A simple description of a young woman (that the dog follows down the street), ends in a description of her life, dreams and passions.... I liked the storytelling, stopping and zooming in on an aspect of a place or person, then zooming back out to continue the narrative. It is like having a cance to look through a window of a house in history and see and feel what is going on...
I think the translationin the audio-version is excellent and the phrases sound as natural in English as they would have done in Russian. Roy's narration is clear and engaging.
Did it make me laugh or cry? Cry and laugh on the inside. Written in what 1924 or 1925, it was a insightful (or prophetic even) summary of the kinds of people we can become... and what happens when things are devolved to the common bottom denominator. The philosophical discussion for me was probably more vital than the actual medical possibilities (which weren't real then in the 1920's) of the future: transplants, cloning etc. (although that was interesting to see too).
Bulgakov is a master wordsmith as well as a great writer using symbolism, and inspiring hope against the odds. The creation of human characters, full of pathos, might have well been written today. I can see why it is enduring, however it is not light reading (i'd give some space for reading about the context, and reflecting on the ideas...). I really thought it was a superb piece of literature!
"Another entertaining / surreal book by M. Bulgakov"
I read this author's most famous book, the Master and Margarita, years ago. George Guidall narrated it excellently narrated and I really enjoyed it.
In this much shorter book, the author seems to spend a bit more time poking the (new) Soviet system in the eye. That must have been very, very risky business as the author lived during the Stalin era. Fortunately for him (and maybe for Stalin and us as well), Stalin liked the author’s work or at least respected his skill enough to spare him the fate of millions of other Russians Stalin was not as fond of.
If you liked the Master and Margarita, you should enjoy A Dog’s Heart. This is especially likely given how well this book is narrated by Roy McMillan. If you are into irreverent stories, surreal stuff, and Russian-style writing, or think you might be, then I highly recommend this book.
That said, The Master and Margarita is probably one of the most interesting books I’ve read and if you were only going to read one, I’d suggest the longer, weirder book, The M&M.
"Animal Farm with Dogs"
This is fundamentally a satire on Soviet Union when controlled by the communist regime. It's similar to the famous book Animal Farm because one of the main character is an animal, a talking dog. It's short (about 3 hours long) and I purchased on a Daily Deal for $1.95 so not too many complaints. The narration is slightly annoying with the "dog" voice sounding like one of those dog food commercials on TV where the dog talks in a panting voice Kibble, Kibble, Kibble yummy. Not sure I would pay full price for this.
"Science fiction/fantasy/ marked political themes"
Yes Excellent story and rendition of same
The transformation of the dog Furball into a man
German literature gave us Kafka's The Metamorphosis, English lit gave us Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Russian literature gave us this superb, but lesser known tale. The plot lines all have transformation in them, man turns into bug, man discovers and is overtaken by his evil side, grateful, nice dog turns into mean,ungrateful man. The deeper themes are noteworthy as well, respectfully family relations and isolation; good vs evil; and marked political themes.
All these stories are short and deserve our attention. Longer novels of the genre include Frankenstein , man-vs nature and society isolating man themes; Dracula with its sexual subtext; and Island of Dr. Moreau with its political and religious themes.
"A dog's spirit dies hard."
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 as The Master and Margarita, but still it is a stunning example of underground Soviet literature. It is funny, absurd, dark, and worth an afternoon.
It is such a strange story, but I loved this book! It was so interesting. I did struggle with the Russian names. I couldn't always remember who was who.
I am having a hard time deciding if I liked this book or not. While I hate what happened to the dog, the story itself is a dark, yet interesting, tale. I also don't know a lot about Russian history, which also may be affecting my perceptions since this is a satire of that time period. The writing and narration was good, and I particularly enjoyed the fact that the story began and ended with the dog's perspective. I can see why this appeals to many people, but it didn't hold the same level of charm for me.
This is a perfect introduction to Bulgakov. The dialogue between the professor, the boorish dog man and the professor's colleagues is so rich and amusing that I wound it back several times just to enjoy it all over again. The sub plot detailing the professor's feud with the tenant's association is laugh out loud hilarious. On top of that the professor is one of the most compelling characters I have read in fiction for a long time.
Roy McMillan is a wonderful narrator. The voices of the professor and the dog are a joy to listen to.
If you are curious about Bulgakov I would thoroughly recommend this. If you enjoy satire and/ or have an interest in Soviet history then this is essential listening.
"Barking up the right tree"
If it is possible to be a big fan of a deceased Russian satirical author then I am one and proud of it. I love Bulgakov's stuff and this is up there with the best of his work.
This is short novel is a satire on life in Bolshevik Russia and human nature, but also a work of comic fiction. A brief synopsis would sum it up as an eminent doctor conducts an experiment in which he transplants a deceased criminal's pituitary gland and testes into the body of a stray dog he has taken in. The dog transforms over the following weeks into a manlike creature. However, instead of being a loyal, obedient dog-like person, he is an unpleasant, conniving bastard who causes no end of misery for anyone who crosses his path.
Roy McMillan reads it with verve and aplomb and it gives it the voice this story so richly deserves.
"Weirdly Wonderful High Satire"
A wonderfully writen work from a unusual perspective
I think that the fact that it's not like anything else - even by the same author - is what makes it so interesting.
Lots of scenes, lots to like...but the operation scene will stay with you.
Yes, very gripping
Nearer to works by Phillip K Dick than anything else by Bulgakov but the setting, satire and the danger this man was placing himself in by writing it, really set it apart.
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