A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess is a kind of novel that is not appreciated at it’s own time. It’s a work of art whose understanding is so deep that getting it on the first try would be a surprise. There are so many aspects and interpretations which makes it a beauty to read. This novel is perhaps most eminent because of its movie adaptation by film making genius Stanley Kubrick. The extensive influence of this book on literary ethos is commendable despite the initial commercial failures and mixed reviews. Misinterpreted for its depiction of extensive violence, the underlying theme of this book is the significance of ‘free will’.
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess Review
Genre : Fiction , Satire
Set in the dystopian near future, the book confronts pressing issues that stem from government oppression. The protagonist of the story is Alex, a 15-year-old boy who leads a gang of other 3 young so called ‘Mates’. They derive sadistic pleasure by menacing the streets and assaulting strangers. The nature of their crimes even extends to brutally raping women. It really shows the psychology of these young lads who have a free will which I think is necessary for the society.
This natural free will is basically suppressed by the so called society itself. Burgess addresses the crisis of a post-war world that is riddled with consumerism and corrupt morals. The disintegrating family values and relentless wickedness of the authority is symbolic.
Themes such as psychological conditioning of prisoners by correctional facilities, anti-establishment sentiments and street violence are relevant in present times. Perhaps, it is the relatability of this theme, even in contemporary times that makes this piece timeless. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess is very disturbing and in a way very strange experience for me, considering the sadistic behaviour. And also considering the irony in a fact that the corrective experiment done on Alex is a torture and kind of on the tone of same violence that he has committed. In my opinion the true nature or instincts of a person never changes. The experimentation done Alex to change his basic nature turned out to be futile in the end. Which is how I think human psychology work.
An extremely important part of this novel, is a rhythmic slang worked out by the author. In an effort to make the book appear more realistic, Burgess has developed this slang termed as ‘Nadsat’. Nadsat is basically British English which is influenced by Russian Dialect. You will definitely need to check the appendix or Wikipedia for sure. After a while of course one would get used to the dialect. The writing style and the lush vocabulary makes the piece highly articulate and displays Burgess’ literary prowess.
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess sci-fi classic is a work that must not be neglected, just for the sheer brilliance and novelty in its style. Depicting dark and disturbing concepts with exaggerated violence, it may be unsettling and disturbing for certain readers. However, as one gets comfortable with that (which will take a bit of your time initially), the symbolic and metaphorical story can blow your mind.
Essentially a tale of morality, ethics and righteousness, Burgess’ intended end to the story is optimistic but in an unethical way or rather satirical way. Hence, despite all the tragic occurrences that ensue through the story, the end helps set in a sense of happiness. ‘A Clockwork Orange’ is a complex piece of literature. It’s sure to muddle readers, leaving them thinking about forthcoming threats to humanity and the need for social realism.
Recommended For :
I would highly recommend this novel to people who want to understand Human Psychology.
People who love a classic satire.
About the Author :
Anthony Burgess was an English novelist, poet, playwright and composer. Born on February 25, 1917, in Manchester, England. He produced 33 novels, 25 non-fiction pieces and more than 250 musical works. His best work include The Wanting Seed, Inside Mr. Enderby, Earthly Powers and a dystopian satire – A Clockwork Orange, the latter of which was adapted into a historic movie. Burgess died on November 22, 1993, in London, England.
He had a Fellowship of the Royal Society of Literature. He had honorary degrees from Manchester, St Andrews, and Birmingham universities. His novel Earthly Powers was shortlisted for the 1980 English Booker Prize for fiction , but failed to win.
- > Extremely thought provoking and morally rich.
- > Innovative development of the slang ‘Nadsat’
- > Immersive experience due to detailed prose
- > The ending is too optimistic
- > The violence may be too graphic for some
- > The use of slang may confuse readers