The Heart of a Dog
I first read Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita on a balcony of the Hotel Metropole in Saigon on three summer evenings in 1971. The tropical air was heavy and full of the smells of cordite and motorcycle exhaust and rotting fish and wood-fire stoves, and the horizon flared ambiguously,…
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Bulgakov, a Russian born in Kyiv, wrote The Heart of a Dog in 1925 when the Soviet Union was in its infancy. It’s the breezy tale of a surgeon who transplants a human gland into a stray dog, turning an amiable mutt into a vile man.
There’s a punning reference to Stalin in the name of the least flattering character, and the author was clearly inviting his readers to read between the lines: this was an early satire on the Bolshevik social experiment.
It was rejected for publication and circulated instead in samizdat form. Remarkably though, Stalin took the writer…
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