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Food and Humanism: Bulgakov’s Dialogue with Tolstoy on Dogs’ Food, Vegetarianism and Human Nature in ‘Sobac’e Serdce,’

Milla Fedorova. "Food and Humanism: Bulgakov’s Dialogue with Tolstoy on Dogs’ Food, Vegetarianism and Human Nature in ‘Sobac’e Serdce,’." Russian Literature. Elsevier LXV (2009): 431 – 450.

A seemingly unexplainable reference to Tolstoj in the beginning of Bulgakov’s novella ‘Soba?’e serdce’ allows us to suspect Bulgakov’s argument with Tostoj on the connection between humanism and one’s diet. According to Tolstoj, the farther man is from dog in his eating habits, the more human he is. Bulgakov ironically tests this concept: the process of Šarik’s (the dog’s) transformation into a quasi-human starts with feeding him human food, which was inaccessible to most humans after the revolution. Throughout the novella, Šarik is both nourished by benevolent cooks and metaphorically cooked by evil cooks, but he never becomes truly human. This dialogue with Tolstoj serves as a catalyst for Bulgakov’s evaluation of the prominent definitions of humanism – those posed by Darwin, Marx, and Aristotle.

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