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I have to admit that when a friend of mine recommended that I read this book, I was sceptical. Not only because I had heard of the movie but also I was wary that my stomach wouldn't be strong enough to hold what this book had to offer.
Needless to say by the time I had finished the first page I knew I wouldn't be able to put this book down - and I sure didn't. Reading this small book in just three nights with sickly real images floating around in my head, the description painted such vivid images that I felt as if I was watching the movie in my mind as I read. And that, in my opinion is the tell-tale sign of a truly good book.
Not only do I feel that Anothony Burgess was brave in writing this, but when I was finished I couldn't help but wonder, how in God's name did he ever come up with such a brash and truly stomach churning book to read which falls under no particular genre.
The only thing that did turn me off this book was the secret teen or 'nadsat' language used in each sentence throughout the book. I was hoping to find a dictionary at the back of the book as even after finishing it I only had guessed as to what half of the words meant!
Overall I must say, for anyone who enjoys mystery, horrors and thrillers this is the read for you. And even if you don't, try it out anyway. It's a must read book, forever and always!
This iconic novel is about youth culture in revolt. The main characters are Alex (aged 15) and his friends who embark on murder, rape, robbery and torture. It is all about what price we pay for reform and free will.
I have been told over and over what a wonderful book this is what a fabulous read. Alas, this has not been the case for myself. I found the language of the book very difficult to follow and also it never really flowed for me and I really never felt any empathy with any of the characters.
I am an avid reader (around 3 novels of all descriptions a week) and I have tried my hardest to read this on about 10 ocassions - It has defeated me every time lol.
I do wish I could have been gripped by it like some of the other readers of it that I have met, but this book just left me cold. I felt no connection to any of the characters and I have finally decided that it is definately not for me and I shall not be trying again.
However, I have met lots of people who totally adore this book so I think it is just 'horses for courses'. My usual style of book that I read is more mainstream thrillers and perhaps that is why I have never got to grips with it - so please don't let my review put me off if you are into more clever pieces of work than your average novel.
If you give it a try, I do hope you like it more than I did.
Also posted on Ciao
It's the future and in an unnamed city, 15 year old Alex Delarge and his "droogs" - Pete, Georgie and Dim (Dim being really dim) are always on the prowl, spending their evenings at the Korova Milk Bar drinking drug-laced milk, searching for ultra-violence, rape or, when they feel like it, straight up murder, all the while jamming to the beats of Beethoven's best. Fun times. But when Alex is (finally) jailed for his crimes, he is subjected to the experimental Ludovico Technique - a chilling and brutal brainwashing technique to turn him into a good, law abiding citizen.
The book examines a lot of interesting anthropological, ethical and moral questions, the most prominent one being the question of whether or not it's right to take away basic human choice, or to brainwash and deprive someone of all free will (even in thought) for the sake of ridding someone of their capacity for evil.
And it's quite a good topic, all things considered and one which everyone has different points to - a bit like the more down-to-earth topics like the Death Penalty. After all, without any real free will, Alex may as well be dead.
As a story, by itself, a Clockwork Orange works nicely, is well paced and an interesting and compelling read throughout. It's a quite short book, almost working as a novella, barely going at a hundred to a hundred and fifty pages. It can be read in a day easily.
Alex and his droogs speak with a Russian-influenced slang called Nadsat and, told in the first person, the book is riddled with it. Which I found absolutely irritating, as I had to constantly switch to the glossary at the back to get what they were saying. All the while it adds authenticity to the characters, it distracts a bit, which got a bit annoying after a while. but once you get used to the same words you should be able to get through the book pretty easily.
Overall, it's not for the faint hearted, as anyone who's seen the film will tell you. It's a dark, unsettling tale, but worth every word
A Clockwork Orange is a revolutionary, classic novel by Anthony Burgess that was most famously adapted into a highly controversial film by legendary director Stanley Kubrick in 1971. However, the film's success is owed in large part to this novel, which the film very faithfully adapts.
The novel's narrator is a young Londoner named Alexander Delarge, who is rather bored with life and spends most of his time either drinking at a milk bar, or hanging out with his three friends, The Droogs, and embarking on various acts of "ultra violence", from beating homeless men half to death, to one evening breaking into a writer's family home and raping his wife. However, on one occasion, Alexander is caught by the police after beating a woman to death with a ceramic penis, and is sentenced to a long prison term. However, he learns about a new experimental corrective technique called the Ludovico technique, which conditions the criminal to associate heinous acts of violence with nausea and illness, thereby preventing crime.
Burgess' vision of a dystopian future in which the government encroaches upon the mind of a criminal is extremely chilling, enhanced further by Burgess' superb standard of writing, which, in using Cockney slang, is extremely original, and also enhances some of the more disturbing elements of the book, as well as add some much needed humour to the precedings (particularly when he calls eggs "eggi-weggs").
Although perhaps not as recognised as Orwell's 1984, A Clockwork Orange is a disturbing look at one possible future, where the onset of psychology and moreover, our furthering belief in its veracity, launches us towards an ever-invasive government that endeavours to erase crime, but at the costs of personality and self-expression, as violent and as heinous as Alex's crimes are.
A Clockwork Orange is a classic of English literature, that's disturbing, often challenged, and insanely original. Brilliant.
I recently submitted a review to a book sharing site (link below) and thought I'd pop it up on here as well, so here goes...
After a couple of paragraphs of this book, I must admit I was lost. By a few pages in, I was gripped. The "nadsat" language of the main protagonist, Alex, is at first confusing and a little unsettling to read, but Burgess' amazing ability to ease you into the language so well means by the end of the tale you are reading it absolutely seamlessly as if it was your own mother tongue. I didn't even realise there was a glossary of terms at the back of my book until I'd finished it, yet I never felt I didn't understand, or at least have an interpretation of each term. The story itself is almost a 1984-style man against the masses, a world paranoid and violent in its ways thanks to the growth of teenage gangs taking over the streets. The casual violence told by Alex in his own voice leaves us no doubt to the evil of his ways, and yet strangely we root for him when he fights the system to maintain his own thoughts and desires. The Pavlovian techniques used to associate his favourite classical pieces with sickness and nausea, where before it soundtracked his violence, leaves him struggling in the correctional (literally) system against his own brain's wants. Though he is essentially evil, Burgess' ability to portray this as a fight against free-thinking means we do empathise and feel with Alex, though he counts for our darkest thoughts and personalities. Utterly gripping from start to finish. I'm off to watch Kubrick's (no doubt fantastically bizarre) film depiction.
<a href="http://tinyurl.com/clockworkreview">Clockwork Review</a>
Wrote this review on <a href="www.bookarmy.com">this site</a> I browse on , thought I'd pop it up on here...
After a couple of paragraphs of this book, I must admit I was lost. By a few pages in, I was gripped. The "nadsat" language of the main protagonist, Alex, is at first confusing and a little unsettling to read, but Burgess' amazing ability to ease you into the language so well means by the end of the tale you are reading it absolutely seamlessly as if it was your own mother tongue. I didn't even realise there was a glossary of terms at the back of my book until I'd finished it, yet I never felt I didn't understand, or at least have an interpretation of each term. The story itself is almost a 1984-style man against the masses, a world paranoid and violent in its ways thanks to the growth of teenage gangs taking over the streets. The casual violence told by Alex in his own voice leaves us no doubt to the evil of his ways, and yet strangely we root for him when he fights the system to maintain his own thoughts and desires. The Pavlovian techniques used to associate his favourite classical pieces with sickness and nausea, where before it soundtracked his violence, leaves him struggling in the correctional (literally) system against his own brain's wants. Though he is essentially evil, Burgess' ability to portray this as a fight against free-thinking means we do empathise and feel with Alex, though he counts for our darkest thoughts and personalities. Utterly gripping from start to finish.
Whilst I may be immensely unpopular in making such a statement I believe that the film is better than the book. I read books for their entertainment factor and whilst I understand that this has a very interesting message in terms of criminality, ideas of good and bad and of free will, I just could not get used to the 'Nadsat' youth language. I did find it quite effective as it adds an even more chilling edge to the descriptions of the crimes Alex and his gang commits. The use of slang to describe such acts really hits a chord.
Personally, I consider the writing style of a book incredibly important in engaging myself as a reader and the Nadsat style was just unable to draw me in. Whilst the creation of distance between the writer and reader may have been intentional I just find it ineffective.
Great ideas and essentially a great story but the use of Nadsat, whilst it helps define the text, made the book less enjoyable.
a clockwork orange. First watched it for the contraversy that surrounded it when first released. Thought that it would be poor, but with lots of gore, but when it gets down to it the film is a masterpiece in terms both of its shock factor, but also the sheer feel it gives you.
The film is violent, and not for the faint hearted, but the most disconcerting thing about it is that this surreal look at the future could actually happen!!
The film starts in themoloko milk bar, which is where alex and his loyal droogs meet up before a night of the old ultra violence. Basically the unstable alex leads his droogs with an iron fist, into violent situations, and scenes of rape, and all is dandy until he accidentally kills one of his victems, and is held at her majesties pleasure. During this time he hears of a new treatment which might 'cure' him but more importantly get out earlier. He is accepted for the treatment where his brain is washed. however the real twist is at the end, and i am obviously not going to spoil that.
Directed by the legendary stanley kubrick, it is his defining moment, and is undoubtedly one of the best bits of cinematography out there, and still looks as good today as it did originally. Malcolm Mcdowell's performance as alex is spellbinding, he sucks you into his world, and encapsulates you into believing that this nightmarish view of the future might become a reality. Do not watch if you are easily offended. By the way it is for sale in tesco at the minute for three pounds, so you cant go wrong. Thanks G
I remember catching the second half of the film adaptation of 'A Clockwork Orange' when it was on TV a couple of years ago and finding it really interesting: so when I saw it in my Amazon book 'recommendations' list I thought it might be worth a read and promptly purchased it.
Alex, 15, is our protagonist and Humble Narrator (as he refers to himself). It is immediately evident that he is an out-of-control teen: at night he roams the streets with his friends; kicking, beating, mugging and raping innocent members of the public. Not only is he ?in with the wrong crowd?; he is the LEADER of such a crowd. He positively adores violence; a fact which his parents are only ever so slightly aware of. Adults (including Alex?s parents) are afraid to go out on the streets after dark due to the presence of gangs of violent teenagers.
Alex and his friends enjoy their reign of terror over the city until one night he becomes over-confident. He thinks he can trick his way into an old lady?s house to do as he pleases; beating her and taking her belongings. He does break in and he does do exactly as he pleases but little did he know that upon her first suspicion the old lady had phoned the police who then promptly turned up to transport Alex to the State Jail.
It is soon revealed that the old lady died as a direct result of the attack; but this provokes no sympathy from cold, heartless Alex. He is subsequently sentenced to serve fourteen years in the State Jail.
Alex - now known only as 6655321 - survives two years in jail; involving himself in various scraps and disagreements: generally illustrating that he hasn?t changed one iota. He carries out one horrific act, but one that I shall not reveal here as it does come as a sma
ll surprise which I wouldn?t want to spoil!
However, after two years in the rotten, overcrowded jail Alex decides that he has had enough. He jumps at the vague suggestion of the new ?Ludovico?s Technique? without having the slightest idea what he might be subjecting himself to; but overjoyed because it guarantees his release in a mere fourteen days as opposed to twelve years.
The technique, he is told, involves sitting and watching films. Oh, our dear Alex cannot believe his luck. Fourteen days until his release and just a few films to watch in the mean time? He?s got off easily! Or has he?
Unsuspecting Alex is injected with what he believes to be vitamins to strengthen him up and then has all his limbs securely strapped to a chair and his eyes clipped open. Still, he does not realise what is to follow: a plethora of horrific films depicting scenes of extreme violence, pain and suffering (but films that he would have heartily enjoyed in his previous state of mind). However, on this occasion he feels strongly nauseous, deeply distressed, and within minutes is begging them to stop the films.
This treatment continues for the allotted fourteen days, at which point Alex is deemed ?cured?. He then participates in a stage show whereby all the important members of the State Jail staff come to observe him wincing at even the mere thought of inflicting pain on others.
Alex is now released as a completely free man, and although the violence and suffering has all but ceased I believe it is the final section of the book that is most interesting; but I don?t believe in plot-spoilers so I shan?t share it with you here!
First of all, I MUST start with Nadsat. For those that haven?t heard about it, it is the slang ?language
? the teens adopt in the book. As the book is narrated from Alex?s viewpoint, the entire book is written in Nadsat. It begins ?there was me, that is Alex, and my three droogs, that is Pete, Georgie, and Dim, Dim being really dim, and we sat in the Korova Milkbar making up our rassooducks what to do with the evening, a flip dark chill winter bastard though dry.? As you can see, some of the words are rather bizarre and after reading the first page a few times did wonder whether I would ever finish the book. However, as you read a couple more pages you come to realise that you don?t really need to know the exact meaning of the word because you can derive its meaning from the context in which it is set. Some of the Natsat words come directly from Russian, some from slang, and others Anthony Burgess simply invented.
Once you conquer (and begin to enjoy) the Natsat, the story can begin; and that story sounds slightly too familiar for comfort: members of the public don?t feel safe on the streets after dark for fear of becoming victims of street crime.
The entire book features descriptions of extreme violence, most of which are rather disturbing. However, it is not so much the violence that is disturbing but the pleasure that Alex and his gang take in inflicting it. There is not the slightest bit of remorse for their actions for they appear to revel in others? pain.
When Alex is attacking one old man in his house he sees a novel that the man was writing entitled ?A Clockwork Orange.? Mockingly, Alex opens the book and reads, ?- The attempt to impose upon man, a creature of growth and capable of sweetness, to ooze juicily at the last round the bearded lips of God, to attempt to impose, I say, laws and conditions appropriate to a mechanical creation, against this I raise my sword-pen ??. It is interes
ting that Alex should notice this in the house, as what becomes of him in the State Jail mirrors exactly the sentiments of the Clockwork Orange described above. It allows the reader to explore the underlying theme of the whole book: free will ? should it be enforced; or chosen?
This theme reappears during Alex?s residence in the State Jail when he encounters the prison chaplain. The fundamental flaw of Ludovico?s Technique is that is removes the CHOICE of freedom from the individual; the chaplain expresses his concerns, ?The question is whether such a technique can make a man good. Goodness comes from within, 6655321. Goodness is something chosen. When a man cannot choose he ceases to be a man.? For me, this was a real eye-opener and very interesting potential topic of debate. Of course the government would want Alex to leave prison a reformed character because it makes them look successful, but should that happen naturally through Alex?s free choice; or should it be enforced upon him because he refuses to be ?good??
Alex is a undeniably a thoroughly despicable character but as he is the narrator of the book I feel a certain closeness to him and cannot help but feel a slight pang of sympathy for him when he experiences this ?imposed goodness? of Ludovico?s Technique. Although Alex?s enjoyment comes from inflicting pain on others it does make you wonder what right we have to impose certain rules of behaviour on others. If it is natural for us to behave one way and them another, who says that our way is ?right??
I liked the way the book was divided into three parts: Part 1 ? Alex and his gang terrorising the streets, Part 2 ? Reclamation treatment (Ludovico?s Technique) in the State Jail and Part 3 ? Alex?s release from jail and ultimate choice. This created
an clever feeling of suspense because each ?Part? concluded at a crucial stage of Alex?s development and when you saw that the next page began the next part you knew that something very interesting was about to happen.
Throughout all three parts of the book there is repetition of the question, ?What?s it going to be then, eh?? and although it relates to different things each time it binds the book together beautifully. I also like to think that it might be a voice coming from a higher being asking Alex the underlying question of whether he will ultimately choose to be ?good? or ?bad?.
I am quite surprised that I managed to watch half of this film, because if it was half as violent as the book is then it must be a fairly disturbing film and I am quite squeamish when it comes to watching violence on screen. The book is a sinister, dark, yet frighteningly realistic view of the world but when presented in words, although shockingly violent I find I can still read on (but that is not to say it?s not gory; it is).
At 148 pages it is a very short book. If you wanted to you could probably read it in a day. I read it in about a week because I wanted to take it in thoroughly. I think a brilliant way to read it would be to complete one ?Part? a day.
If you can deal with the ultra-violence (as Alex describes it) to discover the deeper meaning of the book - free will or imposed ?goodness? - then you will be sure to enjoy this book. If you conquered and perhaps enjoyed how George Orwell employed Newspeak in 1984 then perhaps this book is for you; but if you are after a light read then this certainly isn?t for you.
Personally I loved it - so it is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me!
£6.39 from www.amazon.co.uk
 carly_pussycat - dooyoo UK ©
I seem to have got myself in to a 'reading books that have been made into films season' at the moment. I've recently read the The Two Towers and The Beach, both of which are far better than the films. Somewhat absent minded I picked up 'A Clockwork Orange' a novel by Anthony Burgess and film by Stanley Kubrick. Perhaps you are on of the few to have never found either, and this would be altogether surprising. Kubricks film, released in 1971, proved to be shockingly explicit in its portrayal of the story on which it is based, so much so that Kubrick decided us Britonians weren't capable of grasping its complexities and it was held from release in Britain until very recently. The book may have escaped your notice as its complex prose and narrative style sometimes make for quite tough work. Let me explain. One of the first things that people notice about A Clockwork Orange is the language that Alex and his friends use. It doesn't, perhaps, seem surprising that they have developed a slang of their own, what group of teenagers doesn't? But Nadsat, as it is called in the book, is an extremely well developed dialect that Burgess created specifically for the book. The language owes a great deal to Russian (Nadsat itself is a Russian word used to describe the numbers 11 - 19, in case this escapes your notice a reflection on 'teen' numbers) but is also interlaced with gypsy and 'kiddie speak' (skolliwoll; school and eggy-weg; eggs) amongst other influences. A Clockwork Orange is set in London, somewhere in the not too distant future. The world has changed a great deal. Slipping, as is often the case in science fiction, into a far from utopian future where only the young or foolish roam the streets at night. Burgess not only portrays a wicked future but a socialist one as well. The world Alex lives in smacks of socialist dogma, from the police force to the naming of the buildings; municipal flat block a
nd the prison Stargent number 84-F. But later we understand just how dogmatic the state is in its attempts to control its citizens. We are introduced to 15 year old Alex, leader of his gang of 'droogs', who's primary concern in life is to get their kicks from the old 'ultra-violence' raping, fighting and stealing wherever, whenever and whatever their hearts desire. All four of his gang enjoy their sordid delinquent activities but Alex is just a little different from the rest. Alex lives in a world where he and his gang have the run of the mill, their youthful enterprise and strength set them forward above the adults. Thought the system is never far behind him, he manages to accomplish staggering acts of 'horrorshow ultraviolence' before he comes unstuck. Alex proves that he isn't just a mindless yob. While his droogs mindlessly follow whatever idea is set in front of them Alex is coolly calculating the best methods to glean enjoyment from his situations. His appreciation of the classical composers sets him apart from his contemporaries and during a quarrel with one of his party it becomes clear that despite his delinquent attitude he finds manners important in some situations. Soon he has conflict with them. A conflict of interests that leads to a double cross that finds him incarcerated at the hands of the state. At this point Alex enters the world of the system, or more importantly the world of the adults, away from his group he is just a boy at the mercy of the police and prison system who have no problem punishing him in kind. From here on in we really begin to explore the principle of the story. As we don't get to this point until about halfway through the novella it could have been easy to switch off and think this book or indeed film is ultimately debasing and futile. The fact that we have already been party to several acts of violence, from the roughing up of an old tramp to the rape and bea
ting of a man and his wife, it begins to feel as though it is going nowhere. Oh but it is my brothers. Burgess has to portray his character unerringly as we need to understand just how corrupt Alex is to appreciate the magnitude of his cure. Be fully aware that Burgess never seeks to justify Alexs actions in anyway other than to reflect on how teenagers are often troublesome, their only form of expression is destruction as they are yet without the maturity to work towards something more creative. Something the book does a great deal better than the film is capture Alex's early incarceration. His first two years spent in the normal system where he bends the rules and needs of the system to cut him self some slack and obtain easy duties in the prison chapel. Here perhaps Alex explores his psyche with us more in depth. Discussing theology with the prison chaplain, he learns of a miracle cure that allows the worst offending prisoners to be released back in to the free world in a very short time. The chaplain as a man of God has his misgivings though; "Question is, whether or not this technique really makes a man good. Goodness comes from within. Goodness is chosen, when a man cannot chose, he ceases to be a man." But Alex is still young and naïve. Trapped in a prison system where he has to contend with "smelly perverts and hardened crustoodniks", his desire is to escape the system in the shortest time possible is excruciating. Alex is unaware of the magnitude of the decision that sees him as a willing participant in this new program to cure him. A cure that rids of him not of his desire to commit such terrible acts, but instead conditions him to become convulsively ill at the merest thought, to the extent that the notion of killing a fly even gives him some pause for thought. To his horror he is conditioned to hate Beethoven as well. Alex is cured, via the Ludovico's treatment and subsequently released back in
to the world. Revenge is nigh, for during the next chapters he encounters many of the people that he harmed during his turbulent and halcyon days (and I'm aware how contradictory those two words are!). Without the ability to defend himself Alex finds himself in deep trouble. The irony is not lost on him and before to long he decides it is time to take his life. To say too much more would ruin the point of your reading the book at all, but the book goes on to explore several aspects of philosophical debate. The idea that the state "always know what is best" for us is prevalent throughout the second and third parts of the book. Once again it seems important to reiterate the chaplains sentiment, "A man who cannot choose ceases to be man", in its literal form we understand that any removal of freedom of choice is damaging to the spirit. However in its parallels to society we can see Burgess pointing out that any totalitarian state regulations that reduces the freedom of choice for the common man is not acceptable. Removal of free choice reduces us to puppets of the state; automatons, or robots. Ultimately, both the book and film work on several levels. Even at the shallowest level one can see the obvious irony of Alexs personal descent in to hell without freedom of choice. I'm not particularly good at finding parallels between novels and the real world, but the realisation that no matter how great the crimes a person can commit are it is nothing in comparison to the crimes that the state can execute in the name of control. Even the title "A Clockwork Orange" works on at different levels, the words themselves are old English slang meaning "queerer than anything else" (the word queer in its original sense not as a reference to homosexuality). The clockwork indicates what Alex becomes, without choice his actions become automated like that of a robot. It turns out that originally the book
was released in the US without the important last chapter, a chapter which fully exposes the point of the story, to elaborate would create even more of a spoiler. So enough is to say that it touches on how even the most delinquent child can mature into a useful adult. A suggestion, perhaps, on the ideas of execution of young criminals, certainly one of the arguments I have heard regarding the death penalty, is that you can never know what good a person might be able to achieve. For me the book is better than the film, although the film remains very faithful to the original work it looses something of its political satire in translation. That said I think the book makes extremely heavy work because some of the nadsat language is difficult to pick up, having seen the film it is easier to recall what certain words mean i.e.; Gulliver: Head, Cancer: Cigarette, Baboochkas: Women. The film due to its nature is decidedly more graphic, Kubrick was able to exploit changes in pornography regulations to produce a film that was far more explicit than anything previously seen, yet the violence whilst shocking is never titillating, and often softened by Alex's nadsat narrative. It's rare for me to pick up a book and be able to analyse it, I was never particularly good at this sort of thing at school and now 13 years on I find that I may have picked up on the ability to understand things to a deeper level. The trouble is with so much 'pulp' fiction about it becomes increasingly difficult to cut the wheat from the chaff. In "A Clockwork Orange" Burgess treats us to a story that is clearly satirical and asking us to explore the principles behind freedom of choice and the part governments play in our lives. To that end I would elevate "Clockwork" to one of the best stories I've ever read, even if Burgess himself didn't consider it to be his best work. Coming next.. Trainspotting
A Clockwork Orange is the horrific dream of Anthony Burgess' mind dramatically brought to life. Observing the life of reckless youth and unpredictable, unprovoked violence, A Clockwork Orange takes a look at society like you have never seen before. Ensued by the attractive characters and witty plot, the novel had me edging towards me but also pushing me away trembling with fear and anticipation. The dark side of society is unravelled and exposed; don't let the interpretation of Kubrick pollute this incredible novel for you. A Clockwork Orange is a novel that means something different for everyone; a film representation would not do it justice. Alex is the fifteen-year-old character that represents the disease and backwardness of society. In the night, Alex wanders the streets with his "Droogs", a slang word to which he christened his on looking companions. Written in 1962, based on then an unknown future, A Clockwork Orange is surprisingly still relevant and Alex to me seems all too familiar. Alex is unpredictable and violent, not just physically but with his words. Although he attends school, he seeks only to rebel, his uniform tattered and his regression deeper and deeper into plain mal-practice forces Dr. Branom to examine the unruly juvenile. Puzzled at Alex's random and vicious attacks, Dr. Branom analyses the roots of Alex's language (Nadsat) and why he does certain things. The genius of Burgress is in the Nadsat narrative adopted by the young Alex. When speaking to adults, or people of high order or importance such as his parents, Alex's tone is very gentlemanly, using Standard English and perceiving in his kind words. This is a strategy that he uses to fool the outsiders, those that could affect his plan for violence and mayhem. When alone, or accompanied by his fellow "Droogs" Alex is all too keen to adopt the Nadsat narrative. Embracing conversation casually in a dialect that represents s
omeone that wants to go against the rules and regulations of society. The way that Alex switches from Nadsat to standard English to evade the queries of outsiders is very impressive and of utmost importance when entering the houses of his victims. Although, initially I found Nadsat hard to understand, through the novel, words are used repetitively and the same in certain places so you quickly pick up on it. I believe that Burgress uses Nadsat for a primal purpose. When attacking his victims, Alex speaks in standard gentleman English with a polite tone of voice, I think this is to push the reader away from the horrific violence transpiring; in saying this Burgress, just as cleverly draws the reader back into Alex's underworld with the reestablishment of the Nadsat narrative. The Clockwork Orange philosophy is one that Alex has lived. Everyone who reads the novel gains a different and contrast understanding of the famous phrase although in the novel it is never clearly explained but instead Burgress leaves the readers to develop and provoke their own initial ideas and conclusions. At the murder scene of a couple in their homes, Alex reads the phrase A Clockwork Orange in a nearby manuscript; later on in the novel to his own amazement he shouts this out. I believe A Clockwork Orange to be the continuous psychological torture of any one character. The continuous, daily or annually winding up of a short-tempered individual until, like an orange the juice of their wickedness is pacified. Through the attacks of his victims, it is clear that Alex enjoys the violence that exists in these attacks. But when he volunteers for a rehabilitation program, he begins to draw conclusions between violence and physical illness. A treatment of drugs and violent films see the supposed curing of Alex. The Clockwork Orange philosophy has the characters to which it baffles, marvelled and left in awe. For instance the prison Chaplin starts to que
stion whether it is better to choose evil over good or to have good forced upon you. Perhaps it is free will that causes us to make the choice of bad over good. The loss of this entity is the conclusion of Alex's treatment. Do not misunderstand; I do not agree or understand why Alex commits murders on innocent victims but one cannot help but empathize with him. Alex is a lost boy, misguided and ignorant. It is clear that he himself is not to blame for his reckless behaviour, anguish and hatred for his traitorous "Droogs" but instead, is created by society. The government and the peoples to which he interacted. No one is born evil, but rather it is the environment to which they are exposed. A radical, unconventional new treatment sees Alex not only loosing control over his own life but also being faced with a devastating ultimatum. Live a life of pain and frustration, sickened by a horrific treatment or to kill himself. A Clockwork Orange is a chilling and exciting novel. It shall have you trapped inside the boiling mind of a killer. While here, you will be forced to acknowledge his predicament, his evilness and the darkness to which he resides. A Clockwork Orange opened my eyes to the atrocities that were all around me; it is a novel that breathes a profound truth of those we do not wish to know.
It is, perhaps, a pitty that Antony Burgess' masterpiece became famous through the film adaptation. The film did a reasonable job of making such a strange book work on videotape, but nonetheless people seem to forget the book itself because of the film, and as is often the case, this is a mistake, as it outshines the slightly simplified film version. The crux of the story is that in the near future, the authorities have been totally corrupted, and the streets have become dangerous, as the lack of policing has let vicious gangs of teenagers take control at night. They freely steal, mug and rape people, and little is done to remedy the situation. The protagonist, Alex, is the leader of one of these gangs, and he describes the events that transpire in 'nadsat', Burgess' attempt at futuristic slang. This can make the book rather hardgoing at first, as you usually need to work out the meanings of words from their context as they are rarely explained. I noted that some of it has actually become colloquial in real life - whether this is coincidence or through the success of the novel and film is anyone's guess. The effect of Alex's strange wording is that it makes his actions look less shocking: "tolchoking a starry veck" seems more 'innocent' than "beating up an old man". However, Alex is perfectly capable of switching back to Standard English when needs be; when talking to his Social Worker, for instance. Similarly, Alex has a love of the arts - music in particular - with Burgess' message being a disagreement with a common borgeoise viewpoint that an appreciation of the arts would calm the kind of character that Alex represents. Burgess puts considerable emphasis on how Alex 'fires himself up' through listening to Beethoven to this end. Another key issue Burgess addresses is that of moral choice. At one stage, a radical rehabilitation technique effectively turns Alex into a clockw
ork do-gooder, who is compelled by the will to do evil, yet is forced to do good. Burgess obviously believes that the liberty to chose for yourself is more important than keeping crime down and lowering the size of prison populations. His view seems to be that losing your freedom to choose entails loosing your humanity. Frankly, I can see his point, but I didn't find this particular question compelling. Regardless of the morality behind it, it's certainly an interesting read.
Superficially, "A Clockwork Orange" is a book about a very nasty young man who might or might not be reformed by the end of it. It is also a book about our fear of technology, the loss of free will, and msot importantly, the power of language. *************** The three sections of the book: Section one introduces Alex, a young man who gets his kicks by going out with his friends, stealing, ebating people up, raping, taking drugs and in fact doing any socially unacceptable thing you might care to tink of. it turns out that there is no honour among theives and his 'friends' set him up and leave him for the police. There are some very unpleasant incidents in this section. Section 2 sees alex beign treated in a very threatening institution which sues conditionign techniques to berak his enjoyment of violence. Section three follows Alex after is release back into society, the effects of his treatemtn, his determination to rebel. Most of the plitics of the situation become visible in this final third. ******************* Burgess wrote to represent an always dangerous and aggressive youth culture - the violence and selfishness of the young is nothing new. Burgess shows a society in which there is plenty of scope for violence - plenty of people wh will turn a blind eye, and who will ahppily take advantage when the boot is on the other foot. The greater fear represented in the text is of the power of a state using science to control people. Alex's treatemnt draws of the theories of then developing behavioural psychology which could potentially teach subjects against their will - induce a feeling of nausea in association with a certian experience and later the body will feel sick when encountering the same stimulus. Burgess is only too clear in sayign that he feels this technology robs us of our humanity and that a wrong choice is better than forced goodness.
**************** On to the language. Burgess uses a first person narrator who can speak directly to the reader - this is a powerful tool for encouraging the reader to enter Alex's dark world. As we read, we are repeatedly spoken to as though we are friendl, or even complicit in events. "Oh my brothers' is a frequent address. This approach works on the mind, encouraging the reader to feel that they are indeed a confidant, and part of the little gang. Burgess uses language to mask the violence in the text - his poetic and sometimes incomprehensible nadsat hangs like a veil between the reader and the horrors the narrator commits. the words flow easily and have less imediate meaning. it is easy to accept the violence when it arrives in such a way. As you read the text, you will gradually find the Nadsat starting to make sense. by the end you may well be able to speak it. By speaking the language you have entered the culture, you are no longer an outsider. I found that the friendly first person narrator approach encouraged me to sympathise with alex, and that I went with those invitations to efel involved. As the tale unwinds, you can then find yourself cheering at things you would otherwise find abhorrent and disgusted by systems you might otherwise have supported. You have become one of the droogies. The genius of this text is the way in which it can act upon a erader to alter their perceptions of right and wrong. For anyone who can stand back fromt he etxt and say "That was clever," and who can examin their responses, this can be a really usful and informative expereince. I suspect that anyone who lacks the mental tools to do that probably won't cope with the book anyway. Burgess demonstrates how powerful emotive language can be. Every day, we are surrounded by people trying to seduce us into buying their product, voting for their candidate, watchign their film. The sed
uction of the masses by emotive language is ever present, and if this book does anything, it shows us that we need to be on our guard against these subtle and insidious influences. ********************* A final note, Burgess is more involved with this book than you might realise, because his own wife was attacked and raped by a group of young men. Perhaps A Clockwork Orange is cathartic, or an attempt a forgiveness.
Those of you who follow my reviews will know of my intense preference of novel over film so when the much celebrated Stanley Kubrick's Clockwork Orange was deemed to be fit for viewing, I decided to read Anthony Burgess' book first. The author had fifty or more works published in his writing career, spanning nearly 35 years yet it was to some disappointment that this novel was his most well known. He believed he had written much better books, and worried about the effect this tale of violence may have on youth culture. Astoundingly, Burgess had been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour in 1959. After being given a year to live he decided to become a full time writer and proved his doctors wrong by working until his death in 1993. A clockwork orange is the tale of Alex, a delinquent to say the least, and his life from the age of 15 onwards. Alex is the leader of his 'gang' who spend their time terrorising, stealing and avoiding the police. The title originates from a Cockney saying, 'as queer as a clockwork orange', which makes it a perfect title for the novel. The first thing a reader notices about the book is the colourful way Burgess has used language. Throughout the novel he incorporates the slang of our 'hero' into the tale which not only serves to alienate the reader from the characters frame of mind, but also draws you deeper into the tale. In much the same way that Irvine Welsh uses Scottish terms, Burgess's colloquialisms add depth to the prose. You find yourself making a rough interpretation for words such as malchik, ptitsa, pletchoes and baboochkas at the beginning of the tale and refining them as you read on. I have included a few interpretations of mine at the end of the review although I must stress, I can't be sure they are the author's true intentions: All of the characters, and the
principal in particular, have a great depth which is explored and relayed brilliantly. Although Alex is a rogue, you see a very different side of him in his appreciation and thorough knowledge of classical music. Without spoiling the tale, I can tell you that the major part of the story concentrates on Alex's reforming into a 'good' man. It surprised me how fond I had grown of the character prior to his capture by the police as I felt very strongly that he should have got away! In prison Alex is offered a 'revolutionary new treatment' which comprises of mental torture. The story fascinates as it unfolds and will certainly have you gripped right up until the surprising end. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone with a weak stomach as the tales are recounted very graphically and can be quite disturbing at times. The power of the written word never fails to surprise me! However, if you can stomach the works of Irvine Welsh and Steven King then you will love this book! Glossary -------- goloss = voice chelloveck = man platties = clothes tolchock = puch / hit millicents / rozzes = police creech = shout horroshow = good / well slovos = words Bog = God droog = friend skorry = quickly moloko = milk peet = drink viddy = see / watch rooker / rook = hand litso = face malchick = man / boy devotchkas = women rot = mouth ookoos = ears There are so many more, but I will let you discover them for yourself...;)
So everyone’s aware of the controversy surrounding the cult film of Burgess’ masterpiece. I must admit, it was the main reason I wanted to read the book in the first place. My sense of sick curiousity finally got the better of me this year, and I settled down to see what all the fuss was about. The story tells of the life of troubled teen, Alex, and his gang of mates (droogs). The gang goes around raping and committing horrible acts of violence on innocent people, just for kicks. Essentially they are bored – a sad, if a little extreme reflection of society and the effect it can have on idle minds. I was surprised to find myself feeling sorry for Alex at times – not identifying with him as such, but Burgess does portray a sensitive side to him, and that softens the character somewhat. Alex is a keen fan of Beethoven, really appreciating the music he hears. This is a stark contrast present throughout the book – from the violent sick acts Alex commits as part of the gang, we move to calmer scenes of him lying in his room at home listening to Beethoven, calm and serene. The most outstanding feature of the book, and the one I enjoyed the most, was the language. Burgess invents a whole new language – a teen language – which the gang use when talking to each other. The contruction of this language is strange to say the least, and the origins of some words can be guessed, but I found this aspect fascinating. Words like ‘malenky’ (little), ‘droog’ (friend) and ‘maloko’ (milk) baffle the reader to begin with, but they are repeated so often throughout the book that you find you soon pick up exactly what the dialogue means. It can be offputting to start with, slowing the ‘translation’ of the book down, but if you persevere, hopefully you will find it adds to the story, rather than detracting from it. Aside from the violence (which is quite horrific at times) and
the language, I think the story poses some interesting observations on human behaviour and society. When Alex is finally arrested for the atrocities he has committed, he experiences violence at the hands of the police, and realises what he has been inflicting on others. He remains remorseless, although very afraid, until he begins some controversial treatment as a ‘guinea pig’. The treatment he undergoes is essentially a conditioning process – he is forced to witness acts of violence similar and worse than his own whilst listening to music. In the end, the pain he feels when he hears the music detracts from him wanting to commit crime, and he finds he cannot. Unfortunately, he can no longer listen to the music he loves either – another pang of sympathy for the unlikely hero. Although I did enjoy the book (I’ve never seen the film), it did leave me feeling quite strange. It’s a very odd and somewhat disturbing story, but very interestingly written, and is certainly food for thought. All in all, I’m glad I discovered for myself what all the controversy was about – I can see why the film caused such a stir. Curiosity satisfied!!
In Burgess's infamous nightmare vision of youth culture in revolt, 15-year-old Alex and his friends set out on a diabolical orgy of robbery, rape, torture and murder. Alex is jailed for his teenage delinquency and the state tries to reform him - but at what cost?