Eugenics, Rejuvenation, and Bulgakov's Journey into the Heart of Dogness

Yvonne Howell
2006 Slavic Review: Interdisciplinary Quarterly of Russian, Eurasian, and East European Studies  
This new reading of Mikhail Bulgakov's Heart of a Dog challenges the two lines of thought that dominate existing interpretations. Cold Warinspired critics saw in the banned novella an anti-Soviet political allegory and ignored its astute treatment of Soviet debates on biosocial issues. Most other critics have cast Preobrazhenskii as a mad scientist in the Frankenstein tradition, unleashing forces he himself cannot control. Putting aside false antitheses, Bulgakov's novella emerges as a
more » ... erges as a fictional exploration of ideas in eugenics, hormone replacement therapy, and the nature-nurture debate that had real urgency for early Soviet geneticists struggling for ideological support, and for Bolshevik policymakers trying to create a "New Soviet Man." In this article, Yvonne Howell describes the competing scientific paradigms that provide a backdrop to Bulgakov's work and shows how attitudes from across the "nature-nurture" spectrum appear and interact in Heart of a Dog through the voices of its principal characters.
doi:10.2307/4148663 fatcat:nhyxz6oterenritx7vgscslcz4