This early book from Mikhail Bulgakov, published in 1925, already shows the surreal comic genius that later produced The Master and Margarita, the writer’s masterpiece. A kind of Frankenstein parable, Heart of a Dog is the story of a stray dog that gains a human intelligence after a prominent Moscow professor transplants slovenly proletarian’s glands into the unfortunate canine’s body.
The publication of Heart of a Dog was initially prohibited in Russia, and it was officially released in the country only in 1987. It has become a cultural phenomenon in Russia, and a subject of critical argument. The story was filmed in both Russian and Italian-language versions, and adapted in English as a play and an opera.
A successful Russian surgeon Preobrazhensky implants a pituitary gland and testicles of a recently deceased alcoholic and petty criminal man into a Moscow stray dog named Sharik (a popular Russian dog name). Sharik proceeds to become more and more human during the next few days. After his transition to human is complete, it turns out that he inherited all the negative traits of the donor – bad manners, aggressiveness, use of profanity, heavy drinking.
The former dog picks for himself an absurd name Poligraf Poligrafovich Sharikov, starts working at the “Moscow Cleansing Department responsible for eliminating vagrant quadrupeds” and associates with revolutionaries, who plot to drive Preobrazhensky out of his big apartment.
Eventually he turns the life in the professor’s house into a nightmare, and the professor with his assistant reverse the procedure. Sharikov turns back into a dog. As Sharik he doesn’t remember anything that happened and is left to live in the professor’s apartment.