Heart of a Dog (Bulgakov)

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Heart of a Dog
1925 Wikidata.svg
Summary of the Novel

Very brief summary

In December 1924, Philip Preobrazhensky picked up a sick, starving dog in the street.

Philip Philippych Preobrazhensky Wikidata.svg — Professor of Medicine, luminary of world science, elderly, with a sharp beard and fluffy gray mustache, ironic, despises Soviet power.

The dog proved to be intelligent and loyal; his only flaw was a fierce hatred of cats. Settling into Preobrazhensky's huge apartment, the dog began to think of the professor as his master and thought he was finally "lucky."

Professor Preobrazhensky was a rejuvenator, transplanting monkey ovaries into his patients. He picked up the dog for a special experiment. One day the professor did a very complicated operation - he transplanted human seminal glands and hypophysis into the dog.

The dog began to transform and gradually became a human - Poligraf Sharikov.

Poligraf Poligrafych Sharikov Wikidata.svg — Artificially created man, a former dog Sharik, small in stature, with a very low forehead and stiff hair, ignorant rude and boorish.

Sharikov's basic character traits were inherited from a former organ transplant holder, a repeatedly tried proletarian who earned his living playing the balalaika in taverns and died in a drunken brawl. The cute dog became an uneducated boor, a heavy drinker, and it turned out to be impossible to make a normal person out of him.

Preobrazhensky's apartment was plunged into chaos. Sharikov was pestering the professor's young assistant, swearing and cursing, spitting on the floor, playing the balalaika, catching fleas with his teeth, stealing money, and calling Preobrazhensky "daddy", which infuriated him. He soon got a job at a gastropub, catching and killing stray cats. Because of his rattled nervous system, Preobrazhensky was unable to work and almost stopped seeing patients.

Sharikov demanded that Preobrazhensky give him a separate room and brought a girl, with whom he was going to cohabitate. Then the professor learned from his influential patient that Sharikov had written a denunciation against him. This was the last straw. Preobrazhensky and his assistant twisted Sharikov, put him to sleep, and performed another operation - removed the human pituitary gland and returned the canine one.

Soon Sharikov became a dog again and stayed with Preobrazhensky. In the evenings he lay at his master's feet and thought he was very "lucky.

A detailed retelling by chapters

"The titles of the chapters are conventional.

Chapter 1. Street Dog

Moscow. December 1924. A street dog was dying. A rogue cook had splashed him with boiling water and scalded his left side to the bone. In summer one could have eaten medicinal grass, but in winter there was nothing to cure the dog. He had not eaten for three days.

The dog was lying in an alley when a man in an overcoat approached him. His rich experience of life told him that he was not a comrade, and not even a citizen, but a real gentleman, well-fed and well-groomed. He smelled like a hospital. Baiting the dog with a sausage and calling him Sharik, the gentleman took him to his home.

Shariq Wikidata.svg — street dog, 2 years old, shaggy, coffee-colored, very intelligent, with a lot of worldly experience.

Chapter 2. Life in the professor's apartment

Every decent Moscow dog knows how to read - otherwise you can't survive in the city. Sharik learned to read signs, but the card on the door of the gentleman could not read and did not recognize that Philip Philippych Preobrazhensky picked him up.

Sharik was treated for his scalded side, and he stayed in the professor's seven-room apartment. Preobrazhensky rejuvenated his influential patients by implanting monkey ovaries in them. He was assisted by Ivan Arnoldovich Bormental.

Ivan Arnoldovich Bormentel Wikidata.svg — doctor, Preobrazhensky's assistant and pupil, young, tall, broad-shouldered, very handsome, tough and strong-willed, devoted to the professor.

The elite house where the professor lived was "compacted": low-income tenants were moved into apartments. In the evening Preobrazhensky was visited by the house management - four young men headed by Shvonder.

Shvonder — head of the house committee, young, with a huge mop of thick curly hair, energetic, devoted to the cause of the revolution.

Preobrazhensky's apartment was under protection and was not to be condensed, but Shvonder declared that the professor could do without the canteen and examination room. Preobrazhensky became enraged and called one of his patients.

- What a guy," the dog thought excitedly, "just like me. Oh, he will bite them now, oh, he will bite them. I don't know in what way, but he's going to bite them.

After that Shvonder and his entourage had to leave, and Sharik was finally convinced that his new master was a god.

Chapter 3. Sharik becomes the Professor's dog

At a sumptuous dinner, Preobrazhensky heard strange singing - it was the house committee in its entirety singing revolutionary songs. The professor became upset. He believed that such chorales would not do the country any good and would certainly ruin his beautiful house.

...if I, instead of operating every night, started singing chorales in my apartment, I'd be in ruin.

The professor disliked the proletariat and believed that everyone should mind his own business, and then the devastation in the country will disappear by itself.

Sharik finally settled in with the professor. In addition to Preobrazhensky, Zina and Darya Petrovna lived in the apartment.

Zina — Preobrazhensky's maid, sometimes acts as a nurse, young, graceful, beautiful, unmarried.
Darya Petrovna — Preobrazhensky's cook, very fat blonde, strict.

Zina took Sharik out for a walk in his new collar, and Darya Petrovna, whose stern heart the dog conquered, allowed him into her domain and let him sleep on the warm stove. In the evenings Sharik lay at his master's feet and listened to him purring operatic arias under his nose, studying human brains in jars.

But soon the idyll was over. Dr. Bormenthal brought a bad smelling suitcase from the morgue, the dog was caught, sedated and laid on the surgical table.

Chapter 4. Operation

Professor Preobrazhensky performs a very complicated operation on Sharik: he removes his seminal glands and pituitary gland and implants human organs in their place. It was a risky experiment; the professor was sure the dog would not survive.

Chapter 5: Balloon Becomes Human

The balloon survived. Within a week, he had grown very bald and big. Soon the dog distinctly uttered "abyr" - "fish" in reverse, stood up on his hind legs, and cursed the professor with foul language.

When the dog's tail fell off and he began to utter many words - Bormenthal began to call him a creature.

The professor concluded that "the change of the pituitary gland gives not rejuvenation, but complete humanization.

Three weeks after the surgery, the creature could already maintain a conversation. Bormenthal concluded: the dog could read.

The organs transplanted to the dog were taken from the 25-year-old, repeatedly tried proletarian Klim Chugunkin, who earned his living playing balalaika in taverns and died in a drunken brawl. Preobrazhensky believed that the donor's personality was transmitted to the creature he created.

Meanwhile rumors of the end of the world were spreading throughout Moscow. Preobrazhensky's apartment was besieged by pious old women wanting to see the "talking dog."

Chapter 6. Former dog Poligraf Poligrafych Sharikov

Sharik swore, spat on the floor, played the balalaika, scared Zina by ambushing her in the dark, caught fleas with his teeth, and called Professor Preobrazhensky "Daddy", which infuriated him. The former Sharik was only afraid of Dr. Bormentel, who took over his upbringing.

Shvonder began to take care of the former dog. He encouraged him to ask the professor to register him in his apartment and issue him a passport. The former dog chose the name "Poligraf Poligrafych" and took an "inherited" surname - Sharikov.

Sharikov hated cats. When a cat got into Preobrazhensky's apartment, Sharikov rushed to catch it, wreaked havoc, turned off the bathroom faucet and flooded half the apartment.

Chapter 7. Klim Chugunkin's Inheritance

Preobrazhensky's life becomes a nightmare. Because of his rattled nervous system, the professor could not work normally. Sharikov became addicted to vodka and, when drunk, behaved even more indecently than when sober.

In the evening, when Bormenthal took Sharikov to his favorite circus, the professor stared for a long time at the jar of dog Sharik's pituitary gland kept in his office, and then said: "By golly, I think I'll make up my mind."

Chapter 8: The Professor Realizes He Was Terribly Wrong

Six days after the story with the cat, Sharikov received his papers and demanded a separate room for him. In response, the professor threatened to deprive Sharikov of food.

Sharikov calmed down, but then stole money from Preobrazhensky and got drunk. When he returned at night, he brought two unknown persons with him, which the professor barely got rid of.

Deep into the night Preobrazhensky and Bormenthal discussed the professor's experiment. Bormenthal was very grateful to Preobrazhensky for taking him, a half-starved student, under his care. The doctor saw how tormented the professor was and thought there was only one way out: to turn Sharikov back into a dog.

The professor did not want to hear about it. Sharikov has a passport, he is recognized as a human being, a proletarian. If he disappeared, Preobrazhensky, a scientist of world significance, might not be touched, but he could not protect Bormental.

Nobody will be able to make a decent man out of the scoundrel Sharikov.

This... is what happens when a researcher, instead of walking in parallel and feeling out nature, forces the question and lifts the veil: here, have a Sharikov and eat him with porridge.

The conversation between the scientists is interrupted by the half-dressed Darya Petrovna, who drags into her study a drunken Sharikov in one shirt: he has sneaked into her and Zina's room with a specific purpose. Completely furious Bormental nearly strangles him.

Chapter 9. The Professor is running out of patience

Sharikov disappeared in the morning, having taken all his documents. He returned three days later, saying he had become "chief of the subdivision for cleansing the city of Moscow of stray animals (cats, etc.)," and he added with pleasure that he had been strangling cats all day yesterday. Shvonder, of course, appointed him to this post.

Bormentel took the scoundrel by the throat and forced him to apologize to Daria Petrovna and Zina. Two days frightened Sharikov behaved quietly, but then brought a skinny young lady into the apartment and said that he would live with her.

The young lady turned out to be a typist from Charik's office. Sharikov lied to her that he had been wounded in battle, and forced her to cohabitate with him, threatening her with dismissal. Preobrazhensky explained to the unhappy young lady that her beau was an artificial creature, gave her money, and she disappeared forever.

The next day, a patient with a large position "in the organs" came to the professor and showed him the denunciation written by Sharikov on Preobrazhensky and Bormental. The patient, astonished by Sharikov's meanness, promised not to go ahead with the case.

The crime ripened and fell like a stone, as it usually does.

Having waited for Sharikov from work, Preobrazhensky tried to throw him out of the house, but he refused to leave. Then Bormenthal attacked Sharikov and put him to sleep with chloroform. Then the scientists locked themselves in the operating room for a long time.

Chapter 10. Epilogue. Sharikov becomes a dog again

Ten days later a criminal investigator, a black man in plain clothes, and Shvonder show up at Preobrazhensky's house. The investigator accused everyone living in the apartment of murdering the "head of the purification subdivision".

The professor stated that no one had killed Sharikov, and presented the investigator with a strange dog, who entered the room on his hind legs, sat down in a chair, smiled and barked: "No obscene language." The policeman crossed himself, and the black man fainted.

The professor explained that Sharikov himself began to "turn into a primitive state. The visitors left with nothing.

After a while Sharikov finally became a dog. He stayed with the professor and, lying at the feet of his god, thought how lucky he was.

The retelling is based on edition of the story from Bulgakov's Collected Works in Five Volumes (M.; Art Literature, 1989).