In early 1925, Mikhail Bulgakov wrote "Heart of a Dog." Bulgakov was told by his editors that the work was unpublishable for its political content, and the secret police confiscated it in May 1926. While the textual history of the work supports the common interpretation of the work as a political parable on a newly existing communist state and Soviet man, the novella is complex, multifaceted and does not give an unambiguous answer to the question about nature vs nurture or what Bulgakov revealed to us about the human playing with the animal. It is unclear whether “Heart of a Dog” is an anti-Soviet satire or a warning against scientific hubris.

In Advanced language class we compare the two films, Soviet and Italian. While students enjoy the the extraordinary performances of all the actors, especially Yevstigneyev as Professor Preobrazhensky, Boris Plotnikov as Dr. Bormental, Vladimir Tolokonnikov as Sharikov and Roman Kartsev as Shvonder in Vladimir Bortko’s film, everyone agreed that in the Italian version of “Heart of a Dog” directed by Alberto Lattuada, we see other interpretations of Bulgakov's story. In addition, we discuss Bulgakov’s distinctive narratological feature such as transformation of mood and voice in parallel with the transformations in the dog.





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