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heart of a dog

Heart of a Dog is Mikhail Bulgakov’s allegorical fantasy about a dog, with transplanted human pituitary gland and testes, which becomes more and more human over the course of a month or so. Bulgakov, the great early 20th-century Russian author whose work was banned in his homeland for many years, also wrote The Master and Marguerita, #30 on my top 100 novels list. Heart of a Dog doesn’t reach those heights; it is less a novel than a poetic sketch of a few characters in a situation designed to test them to their core. Hints of the early Stalinist regime intrude at angles. At the core, fundamental questions about what makes us human. The short novel has been made into a movie and, apparently, has developed a cult following. Be prepared for a humorously macabre nightmare, with the images that resonate well into the day.

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