Mikhail Bulgakov the heart of a dog and other stories



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THE BRONZE COLLAR

What a bloody awful town Tiflis is! A second one's arrived. In a bronze collar. Yes, bronze. And he spoke in a live magazine like that. I'm not joking! In a bronze collar, see!............................................................

The novelist Slyozkin has been sent packing, regardless of his nation-wide reputation and his pregnant wife. That one's taken his place. So much for Lit. and Dram. And money behind the carpet..............................................................


7.

THE BOYS IN THE BOX

The moon's in a corona. Yuri and I sit on the balcony and look at the canopy of stars. But it doesn't help. In a few hours' time the stars will fade and a ball of fire will flame up overhead. And we'll squirm again like beetles on pins...

A high unbroken squeal can be heard through the balcony door. Somewhere at the back of beyond, by the foot of a mountain, in a strange town, a son has been born to starving Slyozkin in an absurdly, bestially cramped room. They have put him on the window-sill in a box with the words:

"M-me Marie. Modes et Robes."

And he whimpers in the box.

Poor child!

Poor us, not the child.

The mountains have hemmed us in. Table Mountain sleeps under the moon. Far, far away in the north lie the endless plains... In the south ravines, precipices, swirling rivers. Somewhere in the west is the sea. Above it shines the Golden Horn...

...Have you seen the flies on Tangle-foot?

When the crying stops, we go into the cage.

Tomatoes. A little black bread. And araki. What filthy vodka! Disgusting! Still it does the trick.

And when all around is fast asleep, the writer reads me his new novel. There's no one else to hear it. The night swims. He finishes, wraps up the manuscript carefully and puts it under the pillow. There is no writing-desk.

We whisper until the pale dawn.

What names are on our dry tongues! What names! How Pushkin's verse can soften spiteful souls. Beware of spite, writers of Russia!

..................................................................

Truth comes only through suffering. That's right, rest assured! But no one pays you or gives you food parcels for knowing the truth. Sad, but so.


8.




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