Genre Science Fiction Publisher Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc. Date Published 1962 Review Posted on 1/29/2005 Reviewer Rating
A Clockwork Orange written by Anthony Burgess
Reviewed by Jeff Edwards
If you've read this book, why not
Once you get your rookers on this book, you will viddy your glazzies on a real horrorshow tale of ultraviolence and razrezzing and other veshches. Alex, Your Humble Narrator, is a malenky malchick who govoreets in nadsat, a like slang. To get used to the nadsat without going bezoomny, it helps if you can slooshy Malcolm McDowell govoreeting the story in your gulliver. MM played Alex up on the silver screen, if you've ever viddied that.
If the idea of reading an entire novel written like the paragraph above doesn’t seem appealing, then Anthony Burgess’ dystopian masterpiece, A Clockwork Orange, is not the book for you. Re-read George Orwell’s “1984” instead. In Orwell’s book, a form of communication called Newspeak is mentioned, with an appendix included to explain it, but Newspeak doesn’t dominate the narrative. In A Clockwork Orange, nadsat - a mixture of bastardized Russian and other slang - is deeply embedded in the story and crucial to the whole experience. Most of the lingo can be figured out in context, and for the rest, there are nadsat translators now available on the web.
The book opens with Alex - a juvenile delinquent to the extreme - lovingly describing his favorite pastimes: reckless driving, breaking and entering, assault and rape. When an ugly struggle for the position of alpha male leaves his gang of friends bitter, Alex is betrayed and abandoned at the scene of a particularly nasty crime. Two years of imprisonment do little to curb his natural tendencies (he’s observed reading the Bible often, but he secretly gets off on the violence in the Good Book) so he’s enrolled in a new treatment program to “rehabilitate” him. Alex is reconditioned so that he is incapable of violent or lustful thoughts - or, more accurately, unable to act out such impulses: whenever he feels aggression, he’s incapacitated by intense nausea. His rehabilitation deemed a complete success, Alex is released again into society, where he has the misfortune to cross paths with the people he had wronged before his arrest.
Burgess’ novel - the one for which he is best known - is a satirical look at a near future where the ever-increasing violence among young people has reached a fever pitch and the debate over punishment versus treatment of criminals rages on. There’s no doubt that Alex is a menace, and yet Burgess offers no easy answers. Time behind bars does nothing for the young man, but the flaws of his treatment are fully exposed, demonstrating that there’s no magic bullet to cure criminal behavior. He becomes a puppet in a war of politics, and when Alex is released after “rehabilitation” - weak, defenseless - readers will likely view him as a helpless victim rather than a dangerous criminal getting what he deserves.
A Clockwork Orange is an icon in genre fiction, and the source material for Stanley Kubrick’s controversial film. Any speculative fiction fan who hasn’t read the novel (if such a person exists) should do so immediately.
Amazon Search Results for A Clockwork Orange Anthony Burgess
I am only 13, but it is my favorite novel that I have read so far. Hands Down. American Psycho is great, too.
Posted by Jeff Edwards on 4/12/2007
Thanks so much for reading my review, Christopher!
Posted by kate on 6/24/2007
best book on earth!
Posted by Jeff Edwards on 10/2/2007
Kate, thanks for sharing your enthusiasm for the book, and thanks for reading my review.
Posted by WILL on 2/26/2008
Great book. Read it in 2 days. Nice review to!
Posted by Pearson on 3/16/2008
a pretty great book. i'm in the process of reading it, and around page 30 or so you can start processing the slang fluently, without having to pause and think about it. Some of the scenes are pretty violent, which for me is a plus. but yeah, this is good.
Posted by kiki on 4/1/2008
omg this book was amzingg. i'm sixteen and i had to read it for my english class. i coulden't take my eyes off of it. it is so violent, super! this book though is like o-m-g.
Posted by Jeff Edwards on 4/15/2008
Will, thanks for your compliment on my review!
Posted by Daria on 10/13/2008
I'm from Russia and it's impossible to find this book in English, I don't know why. I want to read it very much, may be you can help me?))
Posted by emma on 11/6/2008
im studying this particular book for higher english and am finding it inceasingly enjoyable. the symbolism is absolutly fantastic and the way Burgess uses characterisation and narritive is genious. one of the best books ive read so far
Posted by Carl on 5/24/2009
Why in the world would you say that if someone doesn't like reading that first paragraph they shouldn't read the book? That's the POINT of using that language.. that it takes a little getting used to. You tried to make a clever and hooky intro but it completely ruined the rest of your review by basically scaring people away.
Posted by Sophie on 9/21/2009
I am also doing this book for higher education and i think it is revolting... the allegory is not as strong as Orwell's short novels and i think that the sick violence is Unnecessary.
Posted by Sarah Bell on 8/2/2011
I have just started reading this book after having watched the movie on several occasions. It is wonderful, and a must read experience!!!
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