A Clockwork Orange
Author: Anthony Burgess
Pages [paperback]: 192
Memorable Quote: “But where I itty now, O my brothers, is all on my oddy knocky, where you cannot go. Tomorrow is all like sweet flowers and the turning vonny earth and the stars and the old Luna up there. … And all that cal.”
A vicious fifteen-year-old “droog” is the central character of this 1963 classic, whose stark terror was captured in Stanley Kubrick’s magnificent film of the same title. In Anthony Burgess’s nightmare vision of the future, where 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?”
If you read the quote above, that’s just a taste of the ‘nadsat’ speech used frequently throughout the novel. The first few chapters can be extremely confusing, with practically every other word being a slang term used by the main character, Alex, and his friend-or droogs. After fumbling through the first part of the novel, I started to understand it a bit more, and knew what they were saying without looking it up. That’s when I began to like this writing style.
Alex and his droogs are teenage criminals who live for the night and want to cause nothing but trouble. For those readers who don’t wish to read about breaking and entering, stealing, murders, or rape, I suggest skipping this book, because there’s plenty of it. Even the police officers in the book are corrupt.
There wasn’t a single character I could actually ‘like’ in the novel, though the purpose is to have the reader sympathize with Alex, who’s telling the book and constantly refers to himself as “Your Humble Narrator”. I couldn’t really feel bad for him.
Some parts of the book were horribly funny. Some were just so odd it made me want to laugh, like when Alex referred to his hair as his ‘lucious glory’.
This odd, violent, crazy little book was actually quite interesting and made a great point; Is it better to choose not to be evil, or to force good upon someone? I give it 4/5 stars.