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A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
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A Clockwork Orange (1962)

by Anthony Burgess

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
21,228325113 (4.01)677
Told through a central character, Alex, the disturbing novel creates an alarming futuristic vision of violence, high technology, and authoritarianism. A modern classic of youthful violence and social redemption set in a dismal dystopia whereby a juvenile deliquent undergoes state-sponsored psychological rehabilitation for his aberrant behavior.… (more)
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    lucyknows: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey may be paired with A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess or The Outsider by Albert Camus. All three novels explore the them of society versus the individual.
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    artturnerjr: Futuristic ultraviolent teenage blues
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    SnootyBaronet: Teddy boys
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    Hoppla! 1 2 3 (French Literature) by Gerard Gavarry (bluepiano)
    bluepiano: Central character is another criminally violent leader of a gang of youths. Here too the gang use slang terms of the author's devising. Less violence, a less straightforward narration, & to me a more interesting and striking book though ymmv.
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    Aeryion: The sub-culture of designer drug use and it's effect on the gritty society within Rubicon call back to A Clockwork Orange like an anesthetized echo. The prevalent use and abuse of the potent designer neurocotic Synth and the language (Illuminese) that the addicts speak amongst themselves is a brilliant homage to Burgess's original genius! This story gave me shivers as I read through the vivid hallucinatory narrative. A must read for every fan of the genre!… (more)
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» See also 677 mentions

English (305)  Spanish (6)  French (4)  Swedish (2)  German (2)  Dutch (1)  Finnish (1)  Italian (1)  Portuguese (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (324)
Showing 1-5 of 305 (next | show all)
I generally do not rate books which are (or try to be) this profound so low, but for a clockwork orange, I had to. It was an okay book with a good message, but the overuse of Russian slang to show the change in society is just poor writing. I believe there were other better ways of doing it, which the author failed to execute. Even more, the ending fell flat, was very poorly explained, and felt a bit rushed while spending so much time went behind developing the introduction. Overall, I think it is a book worth reading, but it is VERY hard to read - and you should keep that in mind when you pick it up. ( )
  MahiShafiullah | May 25, 2020 |
Burgess's most celebrated novel is hard-hitting, insightful, entertaining, and neatly crafted, all the while exuding an almost fairy tale quality. At first, the language is a pain in the arse - my copy came with a handy glossary of Nadsat (the teen slang that Alex and his 'droogs' speak), but it really slows down your reading to have to look up every word. However, although you might start off wanting to tolchock yourself in the gulliver, persevere, and by the end of it you'll pony every malenky slovo. In fact, I think I now know more Nadsat than French.

The book was once banned in many countries - and still is in some. It's easy to see why it might offend those not overburdened with great subtlety of understanding. The depictions of unsavoury acts, though not especially graphic (by today's standards) are recounted by Alex with evident glee and without remorse. When the Lodovico technique forces him to behave himself, he is nothing less than gutted that he can't indulge his former pleasures. All this paints a very bleak view of human nature, and there is nothing reassuring or rose-tinted about its view of morality - priests, politicians and social do-gooders are all depicted as driven by the same animal drives, their only difference being in hiding and channelling them better - to engage in socially acceptable ultra-violence: it's OK for the millicents to tolchock Alex!

The most shocking thing about the book, therefore, is not so much it's alleged glorifying of violence (which, incidentally, it doesn't), but it's exposure of moral hypocrisy and it's refusal to provide false solace. Alex's cure is a false one, so what does this say for the rest of us? Is our conformity any more genuine? Burgess provides no answers - which isn't to say there aren't any (I think there may be), but in laying bear the soul of an honest delinquent he gives us a truer sense of the problem.

Gareth Southwell is a philosopher, writer and illustrator.
  Gareth.Southwell | May 23, 2020 |
I finished this book, but it felt like an obligation to do so. I did not enjoy it. It feels like the kind of book you're not supposed to enjoy, though. It felt like a morality tale. Yes, I suppose at this point it is a classic. And yes, there is enough action in the book that it's readable for the modern reader, unlike some very slow paced older classics. However, the slang-talk which the narrator uses just grated on my nerves. (Yes, it's more-or-less understandable and very consistent, once you get used to it. I just didn't like it.) I also didn't sympathize with the main character at all, and for me that's a deal breaker when it comes to enjoying a book. If this one had been a longer book, or had taken me longer to finish, I probably would have returned it to the library unfinished. ( )
  ca.bookwyrm | May 18, 2020 |
The unique vocabulary will certainly turn away some, but for others it will be an interesting challenge. (There's only about 20 or so words that are frequently used throughout the book, though.) 'A Clockwork Orange' is a compelling philosophical idea told through the eyes of Alex, a violent teenager who is punished by a violent authority. I tend to be less of a cynic about stories, so I recommend to read the book with the last chapter included as Burgess intended. ( )
  peterbmacd | May 17, 2020 |
Linguistically speaking it's a total nightmare - filled to the brim with Russian words, brutally anglicized by making them look like English slang. Much later in the book it's explained as "...Odd bits of old rhyming slang... the roots are Slav. Propaganda. Subliminal penetration". But until then most readers just have to guess (being fluent in Russian, it was easier for me). Although, credit must be given to the author - he used all tricks imaginable to make these words "guessable" through the context around them. And yet - not a pretty picture linguistically... But all that had a purpose. A powerful dystopian premise. So the book does make an impact and is compelling, despite the tortured English. One of the most poignant slang words (this one not Russian-related) was a slang word for "cigarette", repeated throughout the book - like in a phrase: "he puffed at a cancer" - it blew me away, as the novel was written in 1962... ( )
1 vote Clara53 | May 13, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 305 (next | show all)
Mr. Burgess, whenever we remeet him in a literary setting, seems to be standing kneedeep in the shavings of new methods, grimed with the metallic filings of bright ideas. A Clockwork Orange, for example, was a book which no one could take seriously for what was supposed to happen in it-its plot and "meaning" were the merest pretenses-but which contained a number of lively notions, as when his delinquents use Russian slang and become murderous on Mozart and Beethoven. In a work by Burgess nothing is connected necessarily or organically with anything else but is strung together with wires and pulleys as we go.
added by SnootyBaronet | editThe New York Times, John Bayley
 
Burgess’s 1962 novel is set in a vaguely Socialist future (roughly, the late seventies or early eighties)—a dreary, routinized England that roving gangs of teenage thugs terrorize at night. In perceiving the amoral destructive potential of youth gangs, Burgess’s ironic fable differs from Orwell’s 1984 in a way that already seems prophetically accurate. The novel is narrated by the leader of one of these gangs-—Alex, a conscienceless schoolboy sadist—and, in a witty, extraordinarily sustained literary conceit, narrated in his own slang (Nadsat, the teenagers’ special dialect). The book is a fast read; Burgess, a composer turned novelist, has an ebullient, musical sense of language, and you pick up the meanings of the strange words as the prose rhythms speed you along.
added by SnootyBaronet | editThe New Yorker, Pauline Kael
 
A Clockwork Orange, the book for which Burgess — to his understandable dismay — is best known. A handy transitional primer for anyone learning Russian, in other respects it is a bit thin. Burgess makes a good ethical point when he says that the state has no right to extirpate the impulse towards violence. But it is hard to see why he is so determined to link the impulse towards violence with the aesthetic impulse, unless he suffers, as so many other writers do, from the delusion that the arts are really rather a dangerous occupation. Presumably the connection in the hero’s head between mayhem and music was what led Stanley Kubrick to find the text such an inspiration. Hence the world was regaled with profound images of Malcolm McDowell jumping up and down on people’s chests to the accompaniment of an invisible orchestra.

It is a moot point whether Burgess is saying much about human psychology when he so connects the destructive element with the creative impulse. What is certain is that he is not saying much about politics. Nothing in A Clockwork Orange is very fully worked out. There is only half a paragraph of blurred hints to tell you why the young marauders speak a mixture of English and Russian. Has Britain been invaded recently? Apparently not. Something called ‘propaganda’, presumably of the left-wing variety, is vaguely gestured towards as being responsible for this hybrid speech. But even when we leave the possible causes aside, and just examine the language itself, how could so basic a word as ‘thing’ have been replaced by the Russian word without other, equally basic, words being replaced as well?
added by SnootyBaronet | editNew York Review of Books, Clive James
 
But all in all, “A Clockwork Orange” is a tour-de-force in nastiness, an inventive primer in total violence, a savage satire on the distortions of the single and collective minds.
 
In A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess has written what looks like a nasty little shocker but is really that rare thing in English letters—a philosophical novel. The point may be overlooked because the hero, a teen-age monster, tells all about everything in nadsat, a weird argot that seems to be all his own. Nadsat is neither gibberish nor a Joycean exercise. It serves to put Alex where he belongs—half in and half out of the human race.
added by Shortride | editTime (Feb 15, 1963)
 

» Add other authors (37 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Burgess, AnthonyAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Arbonès, JordiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Šenkyřík, Ladislavsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brumm, WalterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Buenaventura, RamónPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hollander, TomReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jones, BenIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Morrison, BlakeIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pelham, DavidCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Walsh, JohnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Welsh, IrvinePrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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'What's it going to be then, eh?'
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Goodness comes from within [...] Goodness is something chosen. When a man cannot choose he ceases to be a man.
Does God want goodness or the choice of goodness? Is a man who chooses to be bad perhaps in some way better than a man who has the good imposed upon him?
There is, in fact, not much point in writing a novel unless you can show the possibility of moral transformation, or an increase in wisdom, operating in your chief character or characters.
It's funny how the colors of the real world only seem really real when you watch them on a screen.
Then I noticed, in all my pain and sickness, what music it was that like crackled and boomed on the sound-track, and it was Ludwig van, the last movement of the Fifth Symphony, and I creeched like bezoomny at that. ‘Stop!’ I creeched. ‘Stop, you grahzny disgusting sods. It’s a sin, that’s what it is, a filthy unforgivable sin, you bratchnies!’
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A Clockwork Orange (1962) is a dystopian novel by Anthony Burgess.
The title is taken from an old Cockney expression, "as queer as a clockwork orange", and alludes to the prevention of the main character's exercise of his free will through the use of a classical conditioning technique. With this technique, the subject’s emotional responses to violence are systematically paired with a negative stimulation in the form of nausea caused by an emetic medicine administered just before the presentation of films depicting "ultra-violent" situations. Written from the perspective of a seemingly biased and unapologetic protagonist, the novel also contains an experiment in language: Burgess creates a new speech that is the teenage slang of the not-too-distant future.
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W.W. Norton

An edition of this book was published by W.W. Norton.

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Penguin Australia

4 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141182601, 0141037229, 0141192364, 0241951445

 

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