As disturbingly good as this is, one aspect that always comes back to me is Burgess creation of and use of the Nadsat language This provides color and mystery to the narrative and it is noteworthy that Burgess intent was to soften the blow of the violent themes of the book 2018 addendum it is a testament to great literature that a reader recalls the work years later and this is a book about which I frequently think This is a book that, for me at least, is connected to the Stanley Kubrick film I don t always watch a movie after I ve read the book, and when I do I usually draw a distinction between the two, but these two works remain indelibly connected in my mind and recollection The most noteworthy contrast is the omission of the last chapter from the film Burgess ending provides a settling of accounts while Kubrick s vision leaves the viewer edgy and uncomfortable.
Rebellion can take on many forms and inA Clockwork Orangeit takes on the form of language the spoken word All societies have their constraints, though breaking through them is often difficult What the poor disaffected youth do here is create their own system of communication that is so utterly theirs.
Every word carries history, and by destroying such words the youngster are proposing a break from tradition they are proposing something new This idea is captured when they attack the bourgeoisie professor in the opening scene they beat him, tear his books apart and strip him naked in the streets It is an act of aggression and power it is an act that is infused with jealousy and rage The lower classes are sick of the elites, and the poor are sick of the rich And they want to stand on their own two feetIs it better for a man to have chosen evil than to have good imposed upon him However, despite the symbolic nature of the scene, it also demonstrates the rash nature of such youths In their actions they perpetuate such divisions and class divides They never stop to consider that perhaps the professor could be sympathetic to their cause They just don t care they enjoy violence too much Instead they just see and object of power, knowledge and wealth, so they attempt to destroy it Having passion and a strong will are vital for social change, but using such things sensibly and at the right time is also of equal importance I m not an advocate of violence, but they could have used that better and productively too Society fears them it fears these boys that represent dissatisfaction and anger How far can they go How powerful could they become What will the future hold Burgress shows us a speculative future, a what if situation that is not implausible The novel is advisory it suggests that something needs to be done to society in order to avoid the pitfall the gang fell into here Like all significant literature, the work has a universal quality it is as relevant today as it was when it was first published in the 1970s because it shows us what unbridled and misguided temper can achieve.
Alex the gang leader is thrown into jail after committing a particularly nasty crime The doctors then attempt to rehabilitate him through psychological treatment based on schema theory and the rules of conditioning and association Afterwards, the thought of violence sickens him physically and he is thrown out into a world that hates him and one he can no longer survive him He is completely failed by society, but it is near impossible to have sympathy with such a reckless anarchist He is violent and spitefulA Clockwork Orangeis a postmodern masterpiece because of its experimental style, language and allegorical content However, it is also an extremely difficult book to read and an even harder one to enjoy The slang frustrated me it was understandable but very dense at times It s a clever device, but an agenising one I disliked this element for the same reason I will never attempt to readFinnegan s Wakeby James Joyce I liked to get lost I don t like to have to put effort in when I read perhaps I m a lazy reader Regardless though, it was a huge relief to actually finish I m still going to watch the film, and I do think I may enjoy it a little than this.
In 1960 Anthony Burgess was 43 and had written 4 novels and had a proper job teaching in the British Colonial Service in Malaya and Brunei Then he had a collapse and the story gets complicated But I like the first cool version AB told, which was that he was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour and given a year to live Since as you know he lived a further 33 years, we may conclude the doctors were not entirely correct However the doctor tells you you have a year to live what do you do Lapse into a major depression Get drunk and stay drunk Buy a Harley davidson Not if you were Anthony Burgess Uxorious regard for his wife s future security bade him to place his arse on a chair in the unpleasing English seaside town of Hove and type out five and a half novels in the one year left to him, which, he later pointed out, was approximately equivalent to E M Forster s entire lifetime output And the last of these five completed novels was A Clockwork Orange.
No mean feat.
So, this little novel should be on everyone who hasn t read it s must read list It s a real hoot, and it s absolutely eerie in its predictions about youth culture and recreational drug use It s also very famous for its hilarious language, all those malenky droogs, horrorshow devotchkas and gullivers and lashings of the old in out in out the reader must be warned that it s very catching and you will for sure begin boring all your friends and family about tolchocking the millicents and creeching on your platties and suchlike They ll give you frosty looks and begin avoiding you at the breakfast table, but you won t be able to help it In extreme cases they might smeck your grazhny yarbles and that will definately shut you up Reminds me of the old joke where the doctor says to the guy I m sorry to say you only have three minutes to live Guy says Isn t there anything you can do for me Doctor says I could boil you an egg.
This book was sweet The way russian was used to show the distopian future was one of the coolest literary devices I have seen Because I was so enthralled by it, I often read parts than once to make sure I was getting the meaning right Everyone should read this book, and then read it again to make sure they got it.
In the near future in an Utopian socialist country, England where everyone has to work except the ill or old whether the job makes any sense or not, a group of teenagers like to party without limits at night Alex the leader, George 2nd in command, Pete the most sane and the big dim Dim, he s good with his boots, fun loving kids Your humble narrator Alex, will tell this story my brothers First they see an ancient man leaving the library carrying books, very suspicious nobody goes there now, inspecting these filthy things and ripping them to pieces, not forgetting a few punches on the offender to stop this evil habit, next entering a shop and borrowing some needed money, the owner and wife have to be persuaded with just a little force for this honor, then teaching a scummy drunk in the street the evil of his ways, pounding some sense into his addled brain Meeting old friends Billyboy and company, in a dark alley, they exchange love taps but boys sometimes play too hard, drops of blood fall lovingly to the ground When so many noisy sirens go off these peaceful youths, leave this unhealthy place Getting tired of walking the gang goes on a joy ride, after spotting the empty car not being used The friends decide to travel to the countryside, leaving dirty London behind for fresh air, the beauty of the land, the woods, tiny critters to watch and the slow ones on the road to be put out of their misery with a merciful crunch Viewing a mailbox with the name of Home on it how delightful, this cottage s welcoming couple lets the group in for a spot of tea, they re wearing masks to enliven the carnival atmosphere, even though the man is a creepy writer ugh Would you read something called A Clockwork Orange What a silly title for the good of the world, these pages are scattered everywhere, flying high to the ceiling and floating down below to be properly trashed on the floor by the good doers Exchanging warm greetings with the wife, Alex your humble narrator my brothers and associates, go back to the city it s getting late, school tomorrow ultra violent fun must end His frightened parents don t ask too many questions at his small , but dumpy apartment a place they share His room full of records of classical music, Ludwig Van a favorite to inspire him, which he plays very loud and his parents don t dare to complain any Later Alex is sent to prisoner for a long term murder they say, framed what rot, he is 15 His cell he shares with five other men, nasty criminals all unlike Alex, one will have to sleep on the floor, his fists will not let him be the one Doctors Branom and Brodsky ignorant fellows they don t understand his slang, have a new technique to cure his violent behavior, as some people call it two weeks and a free man, let the torture beginA magnificent fable of what might be 437 A Clockwork Orange Anthony BurgessA Clockwork Orange is a dystopian novel by English writer Anthony Burgess, published in 1962 Set in a near future English society featuring a subculture of extreme youth violence, the teenage protagonist, Alex, narrates his violent exploits and his experiences with state authorities intent on reforming him The book is partially written in a Russian influenced argot called Nadsat 2002 1381 211 9649040633 20 1394 180 9786007845264 1389 135 9649789642432257 1389 172
I also suppose that many of us who are anti Trump fear this kind of proto fascist dystopian state which in some ways is a cousin to that of Atwood s Handmaiden s Tale and this is what will make reading this book really resonate read at your own risk O my brothers.
How to review an infamous book about which so much has already been said By avoiding reading others thoughts until I ve written mine.
There are horrors in this book, but there is beauty too, and so much to think about The ends of the book justify the means of its execution, even if the same is not true of what happens in the story.
Book vs Film, and Omission of Final ChapterI saw the film first, and read the book shortly afterwards Usually a bad idea, but in this case, being familiar with the plot and the Nadsat slang made it easier to relax if that s an appropriate word, given some of the horrors to come into the book The film is less hypnotic and far shocking than the book, because it is visual and because, like the US version of the book, it omits the optimistic final chapter.
The British censors originally passed the film uncut But a year later, it was cited as possibly inspiring a couple of murders, leading to threats against Kubrick s family The year after that, Kubrick asked for it to be withdrawn, and it was, even though he said To try and fasten any responsibility on art as the cause of life seems to me to put the case the wrong way around.
See Withdrawl of film from UK screensandOmission of final chapterPlot and StructureIt is a short novel, comprising three sections of seven chapters, told by your humble narrator , Alex In the first section, Alex and his teenage gang indulge in ultra violence including sexual assault of young girls in the middle section, Alex is in prison and then undergoes a horrific new treatment a sort of aversion therapy the final section follows him back in the real world, rejected by his parents, now the puppet of opposing political factions The whole thing is set in a slightly dystopian, very near future and explores issues of original sin, punishment and revenge, free will, and the nature of evil.
One awful incident involves breaking in to a writer s house and gang raping his wife, who later dies A similar incident happened to Burgess first wife though he wasn t there at the time Writing a fictionalised account from the point of view of the perpetrator is extraordinary charitable, cathartic, or a complex mixture ThemesWhy is Alex as he is What I do I do because I like to do , and perhaps there is no that can be said As Alex ponders, this biting of their toe nails over what is the CAUSE of badness is what turns me into a fine laughing malchick They don t go into the cause of GOODNESS badness is of the self and that self is made by old Bog or God and is his great pride and radosty.
Can people like Alex be cured, and if so, how Imprisonment, police brutality, fire and brimstone don t work Enter the Ludovico Technique, whereby Alex is injected with emetics before being strapped, with his eyelids held open, to watch videos of extreme physical and sexual violence He becomes conditioned to be unable to commit such acts, or even to watch or think about them This raises questions than it solves The prison governor prefers the old eye for an eye , but has to give in to the new idea of making bad people good The question is whether such a technique can really make a man good Goodness comes from within Goodness is something chosen When a man cannot choose he ceases to be a man The chaplain has doubts, too, Is a man who chooses the bad perhaps in some way better than a man who has the good imposed upon him On the other hand, by consenting to the treatment, Alex is, in an indirect way, choosing to be good.
The technique or torture is promoted as making Alex sane and healthy so that he can be a free man , but although he is released from prison, he remains imprisoned by the power of the technique, even to the extent that the music he loves now makes him sick because it was playing in the background and his inability to defend himself means he becomes a victim.
Do the ends justify the means Dr Brodsky thinks so We are not concerned with motive, with the higher ethics We are only concerned with cutting down crime However, if it wears off, it will all have been for nothing.
Redemption The possibility of redemption is a common thread, reaching its peak in this final chapter Burgess was raised as a Catholic, educated in Catholic schools, but lost his faith aged sixteen He continued to have profound interest in religious ideas, though, as explained here The final chapter omitted from US editions of the book until 1986, and also the film feels incongruously optimistic in some ways, but by suggesting the true answer as to what will cure delinquency is maturity, it might be thought the most pessimistic chapter Is teen violence an inevitable cycle something people grow into, and then out of when they start to see their place in the bigger picture And if so, is that acceptable to society Language Nadsat SlangA distinctive feature of the book is the Nadsat slang that Alex and his droogs use nadsat is the Russian suffix for teen see here Burgess invented it from Russian with a bit of Cockney rhyming slang and Malay, because real teen slang is so ephemeral, the book would quickly seem dated otherwise He wanted the book published without a glossary, and it is written so carefully, that the meaning is usually clear, and becomes progressively so, as you become accustomed to it a bottle of beer frothing its gulliver off and a horrorshow rookerful of like plum cake and There s only one veshch I require having my malenky bit of fun with real droogs Where an English word is used literally and metaphorically, the Nadsat one is too for example, viddy is used to see with one s eyes and to understand someone s point The skill of carefully used context makes Russian based Nadsat much easier to follow than the dialect of Riddley Walker see my review HERE , even though the latter is based on mishearings of English To be fair, the whole of Riddley Walker is written in dialect, whereas in Clockwork Orange, it s conventional English with a generous smattering of slang Where the meaning isn t immediately obvious or is merely vague, you go with the flow until it seeps into your consciousness much as would happen if you were dropped into an environment where you had no language in common with anyone else It s another way of sucking the reader into Alex s world and his gang Nadsat lends a mesmerising and poetic aspect to the text that is in sharp contrast to the revulsion invoked by some of the things Alex does tolchocking a starry veck doesn t sound nearly as bad as beating an old man into a pulp Nadsat acts as a protective veil In the film, this effect is somewhat diluted because you SEE these acts.
The book was like published in 1962 and Alex frequently uses like as an interjection as I did earlier in this sentence something that has become quite a common feature of youth speak in recent times What happened in between, I wonder Other than that, much of what Alex says has echoes of Shakespeare and the King James Bible Come, gloopy bastard thou art Think thou not on them and If fear thou hast in thy heart, o brother, pray banish it forthwith and Fear not He canst taketh care of himself, verily There is always the painful contrast of beautiful language describing unpleasant and horrific things.
Similarly, the repetition of a few phrases is almost liturgical Alex addresses his readers as oh my brothers , which is unsettling if I m one of his brothers, am I in some way complicit, or at least condoning, what he does Another recurring phrase is, What s it going to be then, eh It is the opening phrase of each section and used several times in the first chapter of each section.
MusicBurgess was a composer, as well as a writer, and Alex has a passion for classical music, especially Ludwig van This may be partly a ploy to make the book ageless than if he loved, for example, Buddy Holly, but importantly, it s another way of creating dissonance a deep appreciation of great art is not supposed to coexist with mindless delinquency Alex has lots of small speakers around his room, so I was like netted and meshed in the orchestra , and the music is his deepest joy Oh bliss, bliss and heaven I lay all nagoy to the ceiling sloshing the sluice of lovely sounds Oh it was gorgeousness and gorgeosity made flesh The treatment destroys this pleasure with dramatic results.
Horror and Beauty, Sympathy for a VillainUltimately, I think Alex is sympathetic villain he has a seductive exuberance and charm and although he does horrific things, when awful things are done to him, sympathy flows Yes, there are horrors in this book, but there is beauty too, and so much to think about The ends of the book justify the means of its execution, even if the same is not true of what happens in the story Brilliant.
Jabberwock in NadsatThanks to Forrest for finding this brilliant hybrid the What s it going to be then, eh Leave your domy house to borrow from the public biblio, or reach inside your carman for a bit of cutter Then, O my brothers, feast your glazzies on a dobby little novel You ll smeck your gulliver off and platch at the strack Itty bedways on your oddy knocky and let s nachinat critique of this zammechat raskazz A Clockwork Orange, the dystopian cult classic written by Anthony Burgess and published by William Heinemann in 1962, is a book which addresses violence in postmodern society, morality and human choice The novel is set in the near future and narrated by Alex, our teenage protagonist who speaks an invented Russian influenced argot, Nadsat Alex and his droogs or friends terrorise the locals, performing acts of ultra violence, dratsing, crasting and rape with the apparent lack of law enforcement, issues graphically portrayed in the book and movie adaptation by Stanley Kubrick However, when Alex is incarcerated for murder the second part deals with the government s effort to cure and condition him through a method of aversion therapy called Ludovico s Technique Finally, we observe how pee, em and his droogs snub Alex s reclamation and release, and perceive reprisal from characters The last chapter was never published in the US edition but depicts Alex wanting to start a family, therefore altering its ending.
Featured in the Guardian s100 best novels which described it as a volume bursting with linguistic energy that continues to startle and inspire generations of new readers A Clockwork Orange was influenced by the author s return to England from teaching in Malaya and Brunei, recognising the incipient shift of society and culture According to the renowned International Anthony Burgess Foundation Burgess was interested by this emergence of a world that had not existed in his own youth he anticipated the arrival of Mods and Rockers when he presented Alex and his droogs as a gang with a tribal fashion sense It is plausible that a chapter describing the writer s spouse being violently beaten and raped mirrors an attack on Burgess wifeIs it better for a man to have chosen evil than to have good imposed upon himWith the likes of George Orwell and Aldous Huxley inspiring this novel, A Clockwork Orange is powerful and eloquent dystopian prose, a chef d oeuvre containing invented words predominantly derived from Russian where the manipulation of English verbs emphasises Burgess linguistic virtuoso Becoming confident with such patois required initial focus, yet a conflation of Russian, Romany and Cockney rhyming slang is fascinating to the human ear, and words are deployed in a style which ensures comprehension of implied meaning You develop a bond with Your Humble Narrator who refers to readers as my brothers during the story But you also question whether Burgess is effectively brainwashing through language utility and linguistic functionality, analogous to state treatment of Alex In a paper examining connections of law and literature, Shruthi Ramakrishnan articulates an interesting perspective Fictional language diminishes the intensity of the violent acts committed by Alex Burgess manages to pass off the brutal violence extremely casually narrative techniques further reels you into sympathising with the character s fate at the hands of the government To fully enjoy this book you are advised to use the glossary It s really not chepooka A Clockwork Orange also motivates you to question the nature of humanity Is it superlative to exist in a population conditioned for the good of society or allow people to exercise freedom of choice, even if immoral or corrupt like that perpetrated by Hitler and, philosophically, to what extent could aversion therapy change the course of history, and how do we perceive good and evil during conflict Is the government bad whereas it believes itself otherwise in labouring to condition Alex as A Clockwork Orange, removing their ability to make decisions as a functioning being Is Alex, contrary to consensus that he is cured and wanting to start a family in the last chapter, actually exploiting offspring as a means of unleashing further misery on society Alex s droogs eventually join the police or start families of their own despite not having undergone aversion therapy so is Ludovico s Technique a knee jerk reaction to what is considered evil These are questions to explore.
Further, it is a story where we discover culture and criminality in parallel functionality, with Alex often unleashing criminal comportment before venturing home to the music of Ludwig van Beethoven There are references to sexual activities and towards the beginning we read of rape amidst the milieu of theatre, an obscene act distorting the distinction between art and violence In tearing up a gentleman s academic library books and the draft novel of F Alexander whose wife is also beaten and raped, and who reappears near the end does Burgess symbolise Alex and his droogs to condemn cultural commodity the area of life our protagonist enjoys so much, albeit when detached from criminality The influence of Burgess is apparent within narrative structure and characterisation, from his adoration of music to linguistic dexterity As such, the author has created a protagonist both culturally intelligent yet vulnerable to criminal conduct, at least until Ludovico s Treatment which satirises behaviourism originally popularised by psychologist B F Skinner Watching violent films with the music of Beethoven, Alex becomes sickWhen a man cannot choose, he ceases to be a manBut where Burgess really excels is the plethora of literary and musical references adroitly woven throughout, imbuing the novel with a sense of cultural erudition and rigour For example, there is an allusion to the playwright Marghanita Laski, and words deriving from Cassell s Dictionary of Slang Despite the absence of reading for pleasure there is a reference to Kingsley Amis Amis Avenue is named in the book whose novels Burgess often reviewed Priestley Place is supposedly named after J B Priestley, a writer discussed in The Novel Now Faber, 1971 And there are biblical quotations Joy before the angels of God , a quotation from Shakespeare s Hamlet Rest, perturbed spirit in Act 1, Scene 5 and several allusions to Beethoven and the Ninth Symphony in stimulating dreams of violence if you re interested, Burgess novel Napoleon Symphony obtained its structure from Beethoven s Eroica Symphony A Clockwork Orange echoes the words of T S Eliot in Baudelaire Selected Essays, 1951, p 429 which cogitates the followingSo far as we are human, what we do must be either evil or good so far as we do evil or good, we are human and it is better, in a paradoxical way, to do evil than to do nothing at least, we exist It is true to say that the glory of man is his capacity for salvation it is also true to say that his glory is his capacity for damnation The worst that can be said of most of our malefactors, from statesmen to thieves, is that they are not men enough to be damnedAnd the Clockwork legacy continues as strong as ever Just this year an unfinished manuscript The Clockwork Condition was reportedly found among the archives by Professor Andrew Biswell read about the lost sequel here.
The defining story of good and evil, or a black comedy This book is open to interpretation and debate, often disparaged by the media and literary critics alongside those esteeming its position within popular culture A Clockwork Orange required me to consider the notion of good versus evil, conditioned good versus unconditioned evil, and the state s power for political advantage in mechanising humanity at its root Losing their free will to be a criminal also deprives Alex of an adolescence and potential to be successful within arts and music, the very fabric of society And like Alex, this dystopian novel conditioned my brain to think differently and became one of my favourite books of all time A real horrorshow work of fiction, O my brothers.
Rating This is a review of the fully restored fiftieth anniversary edition with a foreword by Martin Amis, recommended for lovers of dystopian literature