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Whether Man or Beast: The Question of the Animal in Three of Bulgakov’s Novellas

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The article presents a revisionist reading of three novellas from the nineteen-twenties: “D′javoliada”, “Rokovye jajca” and “Sobač′e serdce”. The author contends that existing interpretations of Bulgakov's work are limited by allegorical and anthropocentric concerns, and that the novellas may be read in a different light if we rid ourselves of the straitjacket of anthropocentrism and fix our gaze on animal figurations. Employing Agamben’s theory of the anthropological machine, which produces the human in opposition to the animal, while also looking to Šklovskij’s and Lichačëv’s different notions of the simile, the author analyzes the tendency in Bulgakov’s fiction to create hybrids, both on the tropological and narrative levels. If we permit ourselves to look past our conception of the human, the comical and grotesque image of something monstrous, a hybrid or crossbreed, neither human nor animal, takes form.
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Keywords: Diaboliad; Heart of a Dog; The Fatal Eggs; animality; anthropocentrism; hybridity; posthumanism; simile

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Faculty of Humanities, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway

Publication date: July 2, 2016

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