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A Clockwork Orange

A Clockwork Orange
By Anthony Burgess

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Product Description

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."

Product Details

  • Amazon Sales Rank: #2394 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

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. After his youthful adventures of raping and pillaging, Alex finds himself in prison. When he volunteers for an experiment, his sentence is commuted to two weeks. The experiment leaves him physically incapable of doing wrong and releases him back into the world. However, when he repeatedly runs into people he has wronged in the past, his real suffering begins. This audiobook gives new life to Burgess's tale of recklessly violent youth, free will and true redemption. While Malcolm McDowell forever infused viewers with the look of Alex in the film, Tom Hollander performs an even more amazing feat. With a smooth, almost lyrical, crisp voice, Hollander delivers Burgess's nadsat dialect to readers with such rhythmic cadence that listeners will easily understand the extensive slang used throughout the book. This unabridged production also includes the 21st chapter, which was not dramatized in the film or in the book's original U.S. publication. The audiobook opens with a brief note by Burgess on living with the book's legacy. The final CD features selected readings by Burgess from a previous recorded abridged version. While it's interesting to hear the older and gruffer voice, it does not compare to Hollander's performance. A Penguin paperback. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist
*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)

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful.
4"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.

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful.
4I would not recommend this for young teens or children
By Izzy
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.

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful.
5Full on Social Satire, No Holds Barred.
By LiterallyLiterary
To call this book "dystopian", as so many seem inclined to do, is a complete misrepresentation of it. It's contemporary social satire that's just as relevant today as it was when first published in the early 1960s.

What makes this book difficult is not so much the mindless violence that the narrator engages in or the nadsat language that he uses, but moreover the directness with which Burgess wrote the story. He didn't soften it by loading it up with metaphors, he went straight for the jugular.

The satire in this book clearly attacks at least three aspects of society, each given their own section in the book:

Part one takes a shot at the choice, notions of "free will" are closely examined in this book, of Alex and his cohorts to freely engage in hooliganism and mindless crime for no other reason than that they can. Alex revels in it, glorifies himself through it and makes no apologies. Alex is not written to be likable, he is neither protagonist nor anti-hero; he is simply Alex who exercised his free will contrary to how we would have liked to see him do it.

Part two attacks corrupt, hypocritical governments and other power structures and what they do with their powers when left unchecked. After Alex is simply thrown in prison for his crimes, he hears of a new experimental method of "reforming" criminals in such a way that they will not ever re-offend. Officially, this is done to ease the burden on the prison system. Realistically, it's a disturbing and invasive behavioral control mechanism that goes much deeper than simply eradicating Alex's criminal tendencies; it stifles his ability to take much joy in life at all, criminal or benign. The classical music he was passionate about before the "treatment" is unbearable to him after. What they do to "reform" Alex is pure abuse of power and no less disturbing than anything Alex himself ever did.

Part three takes a run at anti-government groups and how they use, and often abuse, people. After his release from prison. Alex eventually and unwittingly finds his way into the company of a man who he horribly victimized in the first part and two other men representing and anti-government organization. Initially, they see Alex as a potential "poster boy" for their cause and intend to use him as evidence to the public of how evil the government is; however, a combination of Alex's former victim eventually recognizing Alex for who he really is and Alex later trying to take his own life sees the anti-government movement abandon Alex almost as quickly as they rallied around him. Their only interest in him was as a tool for their cause.

This book challenges the reader because it gives no true protagonist to bond to, in fact it strives to keep a distance between the reader and the narrator and the nadsat slang is a big part of how that's done. The slang is not actually that difficult to figure out as there is enough standard English to give context. The key is that nadsat works exactly as slang should, that is as an exclusionary language; every generation creates its own slang to confuse older, more authoritative generations and to keep them somewhat in the dark.

Burgess places the reader in the position of being a bystander to the goings on in the story; close enough that we can see, but still outside of it and not directly involved. Disturbingly like watching a television newscast these days.

misspent youth, government corruption and anti-government groups of often dubious motives existed at the time Burgess wrote this book and they still exist today; they are timeless things. As such, this book is anything but dystopian; it's uncomfortably contemporary.

As for the film adaptation; that was certainly not one of Stanley kubrick's finest hours. It only very loosely follows the story, cuts out a lot of critical events and adjusts certain characters' physical qualities to the point where a lot of the shock value is lost.

Read this edition of the book for best effect. The notes, essays and interviews at the end are very enlightening and add greatly to the overall reading experience.

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