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A vicious fifteen year old droog is the central character of thisclassic In Anthony Burgess s nightmare vision of the future, where criminals take over after dark, the story is told by the central character, Alex, who talks in a brutal invented slang that brilliantly renders his and his friends social pathology A Clockwork Orange is a frightening fable about good and evil, and the meaning of human freedom And when the state undertakes to reform Alex to redeem him, the novel asks, At what cost This edition includes the controversial last chapter not published in the first edition and Burgess s introduction A Clockwork Orange Resucked 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 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 A Clockwork Orange is one of those books which everyone has heard of but which few people have actually read mostly, I think, because it is preceded by a reputation of shocking ultra violence I m not going to deny here that the book contains violence It features lengthy descriptions of heinous crimes, and they re vivid descriptions, full of excitement Burgess later wrote in his autobiography I was sickened by my own excitement at setting it down Yet it does not glorify violence, nor A Clockwork Orange is one of those books which everyone has heard of but which few people have actually read mostly, I think, because it is preceded by a reputation of shocking ultra violence I m not going to deny here that the book contains violence It features lengthy descriptions of heinous crimes, and they re vivid descriptions, full of excitement Burgess later wrote in his autobiography I was sickened by my own excitement at setting it down Yet it does not glorify violence, nor is it a book about violence per se Rather it s an exploration of the morality of free will Of whether it is better to choose to be bad than to be conditioned to be good Of alienation and how to deal with the excesses to which such alienation may lead And ultimately, of one man s decision to say goodbye to all that At least in the UK version The American version, on which Stanley Kubrick s film adaptation was based, ends on a less optimistic note In short, it s a novella of ideas which just happens to contain a fair bit of violence.It is also quite an artistic and linguistic achievement Those who have seen the film will know that Alex the anti hero and his droogs friends speak a made up language full of Russian loanwords, Shakespearean and Biblical influences and Cockney rhyming slang Initially this nadsat language was nearly incomprehensible to me, and my first response to it was bad I found myself cursing Burgess, telling him that it wasn t fair to put his readers through something like that If I want to read an incomprehensible book, I ll read Finnegans Wake, thank you very much However, Burgess takes great care to introduce his new words in an understandable way, so after a few pages I got the hang of the nadsat lingo, and after a fewpages I actually began to enjoy it, because I m enough of a linguist to go in for that sort of thing I found myself loving the Russian loanwords, rejoicing when I recognised a German loanword among them and enjoying the Shakespearean quality of Alex dialogues I finished the book with an urgent wish to learn Russian and readShakespeare I doubt many readers will respond to the book in that way not everyone shares my enthusiasm for languages and classical stuff , but my point is you ll get used to the lingo, and at some point you ll begin to admire it, because for one thing, Burgess is awfully consistent about it, and for another, it just sounds so damned good I mean, if you re going to come up with a new word for crazy , you might as well choose bezoomny, right Because it actually sounds mad Doesn t it Anyhow, there sto A Clockwork Orange than just philosophical ideas and linguistic pyrotechnics The writing itself is unexpectedly lyrical, and not just when it deals with violence Some of the most beautiful passages in the book deal with music More specifically, classical music, because for all his wicked ways, Alex has a passion for classical music He particularly adores Beethoven, an adoration I happen to share I came away from the book thinking I might consent to becoming Alex devotchka woman, wife simply because he is capable of getting carried away by Beethoven s Ninth and hates having it spoilt for him He s cultured, is Alex, and while his culturedness obviously does not equal civilisation and goodness a point he himself is quick to make , it does put him a notch above the average hooligan It s the apparent dichotomy between Alex tastes in art and his taste for violence which makes him such an interesting protagonist and which keeps you following his exploits to their not entirely believable but good conclusion.In short, then, A Clockwork Orange is an excellent book a bit challenging at first, but gripping and interesting and full of style and ideas Not many books can claim as much 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 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 farshocking than the book, because it isvisual and because, like the US version of the book, it omits theoptimistic 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 acomplex mixture ThemesWhy is Alex as he is What I do I do because I like to do , and perhaps there is nothat 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 raisesquestions 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 bookageless than if he loved, for example, Buddy Holly, butimportantly, 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 A linguistic adventure, O my brothers I had seen the Kubrick film and so reading the novella was on the list I very much enjoyed it, was surprised to learn that American publishers and Kubrick had omitted the crucial last chapter that provides some moral denouement to the ultra violence.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 narrativ What s it going to be then, eh A linguistic adventure, O my brothers I had seen the Kubrick film and so reading the novella was on the list I very much enjoyed it, was surprised to learn that American publishers and Kubrick had omitted the crucial last chapter that provides some moral denouement to the ultra violence.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