A Clockwork Orange
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Great Music, it said, and Great Poetry would like quieten Modern Youth down and make Modern Youth more Civilized. Civilized my syphilised yarbles.A vicious fifteen-year-old droog is the central character of this 1963 classic. In Anthony Burgess's nightmare vision of the future, where the 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. 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."
- Amazon Sales Rank: #2637 in Books
- Brand: W W Norton Company
- Published on: 1995-04-17
- Original language: English
- Number of items: 1
- Dimensions: 8.30" h x .60" w x 5.50" l, .43 pounds
- Binding: Paperback
- 213 pages
- W W Norton Company
*Starred Review* It may be a sign of a great work that it can be misinterpreted by detractors and proponents alike. Contemporary readers who saw Burgess’ 1962 dystopian novel as a celebration of youth violence were as far off base as the teens since then who have thrilled to the transgressive violence it—or, at least, Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation—depicts. But paradox is at the heart of this book, as this newly restored, fiftieth-anniversary edition makes more clear than ever. Narrated by Alex, a teenage dandy who revels in language (he speaks a slang called Nadsat), music (especially Bach and Beethoven), and violence, especially violence. When imprisoned for murder, he is offered a chance at reform and leaps at it—but the reform turns out to be brainwashing, an aversion therapy that, alas, leaves him able to enjoy neither beatings nor Beethoven. Upon his release he becomes first a victim of his victims, then a cause célèbre of antigovernment activists before . . . well, publishers offered different endings to British and American audiences, as readers will discover here. What makes A Clockwork Orange so challenging, besides the language (“He looked a malenky bit poogly when he viddied the four of us”), is Burgess’ willingness to use an unsympathetic protagonist to make his point, which is essentially that it may be better to choose evil than to be forced to be good. (For, as it is put by two different characters: “When a man cannot choose he ceases to be a man.”) Readers can revisit or discover a classic that, while drawing from Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock, has in turn influenced authors from Irvine Welsh to Suzanne Collins. Extras include a thoughtful introduction by editor Andrew Biswell, reproductions of manuscript pages annotated by Burgess, and a previously unpublished chapter of a book that was to have been called The Clockwork Condition, in which Burgess intended to set the record straight about his intentions now that Kubrick’s film adaptation had made him famous. Readers will learn much, including the meaning behind the book’s title. All in all, a fitting publication of a book that remains just as shocking and thought provoking as ever. --Keir Graff
“A brilliant novel... a savage satire on the distortions of the single and collective minds.” (New York Times)
“Looks like a nasty little shocker, but is really that rare thing in English letters: a philosophical novel.” (Time)
“I do not know of any other writer who has done as much with language as Mr. Burgess has done here ― the fact that this is also a very funny book may pass unnoticed.” (William S. Burroughs)
“A terrifying and marvelous book.” (Roald Dahl)
About the Author
Anthony Burgess (1917–1993) is the author of many works, including A Clockwork Orange, The Wanting Seed, Nothing Like the Sun, Honey for the Bears, The Long Day Wanes, The Doctor Is Sick, and ReJoyce.
Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful.
"I'm singing in the rain.."
By James B.
A Clockwork Orange is Anthony Burgess's most famous novel, though you'll quickly find out that it isn't his favorite. This book has been the basis for some highly iconic scenes in cinema, and it's easy to see why it's such a famous book.
The story takes place is run-down version of London, following Alex, a gang leader whose two loves are gratuitous violence and classical music. After a robbery gone bad, Alex ends us a test subject for a new treatment to turn bad men good.
Burgess has developed a style on his own to write this book. The novel uses a massive amount of future slang that is at first super confusing. But after a few paragraphs, you'll be able to figure out what everything means. It certainly makes for an interesting experience.
The introduction for this edition is also notable, in that it directly calls attention to the novels main flaw. Like I said, Burgess himself doesn't like this book that much, citing the fact that he felt his themes of free will and morality were to heavy handed. And they are. But I feel like the book is worth reading in spite of that.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful.
I would not recommend this for young teens or children
It is a dark, interesting story, but may not be accessible to some due to content. There are a lot of Russian words in this book. Some of them are explainable by context, but most aren't. I can't speak from the perspective of a pure English speaker, because I happen to know both Russian and English. The content can be very dark and explicit at times. I would not recommend this for young teens or children.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful.
Not for the faint of heart... but that's not a bad thing.
By Mr. Kunz
I love this book. It gives a realistic view of the future, and it's possible darker societal changes that can be seen today, roughly 50 years after the book was first published. It includes the british ending, which is the way the book is supposed to end, compared to the lesser philosophical Kubrick ending that the U.S. was initially given. I will read this book dozens of times over, just because i enjoy Alex's charismatic and vulgar demeanor to provide more depth, reality, and complexity than anything found in modern media's characterization of the rebellious teenager. The story criticizes socialism, democracy at times, meanwhile pointing out our flaws as human beings to appreciate the arts of past generations, with just the right amount of satirical humor to keep the reader invested. It's a hard book to read, yet i challenge you to put it down after reading the first page. This book is a work of art. Thank you Anthony Burgess