A Dog's Head

Jean Dutourd

translated from the French by Robin Chancellor
The University of Chicago Press 1998 [1951]
A book review by Danny Yee © 1998 http://dannyreviews.com/
"When she was told, as tactfully as could be, that she had just given birth to a child with a dog's head, Mme Du Chaillu fainted. After twenty years of sterility, it was a severe blow. M. Du Chaillu was, if possible, even more distraught. For fifteen minutes he seriously felt like killing his spouse, but one glance at her innocent face made him blush for his hideous suspicions. He contented himself with sighing: 'My poor Henriette! We might have been spared this.'"

So begins the story of Edmond, whose spaniel's head prevents him leading an ordinary life, complicating his relationships with both dogs and women. As in Kafka's "Metamorphosis", the fantastic premise of A Dog's Head is a tool, at the same time blunt and surprisingly subtle, for exploring the psychology of alienation. But Dutourd's novella can be read in many ways — as a bitingly satirical parable, an adult fairy-tale, or simple entertainment. It has a galloping narrative, open but straight-faced humour, and genuine charm.

This edition of A Dog's Head (Une Tete de Chien, 1951) contains a new preface by Jean Dutourd and a forward by Wendy Doniger.

September 1998

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%T A Dog's Head
%A Dutourd, Jean
%M French
%F Chancellor, Robin
%I The University of Chicago Press
%D 1998 [1951]
%O paperback
%G ISBN 0226174921
%P xv,149pp