Heart of Dog – book club

What makes a man, a man? What makes a living being worthy of human rights?

Today we talk about “Heart of dog” by M. Bulgakov: a tale about science, progress and humanity.

Our trip begins following a stray dog looking for food in a glacial Moscow, finding help in a distinguished man who bribes it with food in order to take it home.

The dog can’t believe how lucky it is, now having a name, free food and a wonderful home.

But something sketchy is going on at the Doctor’s place and soon we discover his malefic intentions: thanks to his genius mind, he plans on turning the poor dog into a human being.

The most relevant thought which came to my mind, as I was reading this book, is how we underestimate the power we possess. As the world was covered by simple minded animals, human beings raised among them learning to exploit the environment in order to submit even the most aggressive creatures. But, as we were developing our knowledge, we became less and less aware of descending from the same creatures we were exploiting.

We forgot that we used to sleep in forests and hide on trees, and we stopped considering ourselves part of the animal kingdom. Our power made us able of eating others until we were able to build houses, cities and countries.

Inside this book, we see a man corrupted by his knowledge and caring only about his personal development as a scientist. He doesn’t care about his patients nor his colleagues, but is he a ‘good’ doctor?

He treated men and women who had lost hope, actually curing their conditions.

At the same time, the “recovery” of their bodies didn’t help their minds. He is trying to defeat age and death, but is it actually a good thing?

He says his experiment on the dog will lead a revolutionary medical discovery, but is it worth it? Do we really have the right to treat animals as we please?

The same questions could be asked about climate change and the environmental crisis, what should be do?

Let’s talk about it!

Benedetta Ronchi

PS: Next month’s book will be Illness by Havi Carel

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