Review: A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
Well you can't get more classic than A Clockwork Orange. I continuously watched the movie when I was a teenager; safe to say I had a sick curiosity about witnessing a character that was so purely evil such as Alex. After some research, I learnt that the meaning of the term 'a clockwork orange' is to describe something as solely one thing - for example, solely good or solely evil. This book certainly demonstrates the frantic mind of someone who is solely evil.
In this horrifying dystopian future, criminals take over after dark. Teen gang leader, Alex, narrates in highly inventive slang that echoes the violent intensity of the youth rebelling against society. A Clockwork Orange is a frightening fable about good and evil and the meaning of human freedom.
I decided to listen to this book as an audiobook. I initially tried reading the text and felt it was a real struggle to interpret the language. Due to the amount of words and phrases that are replaced with slang and the text almost being written in an accent, seeing the story on paper was disabling me from getting any enjoyment from it. I quickly made the media switch and I'm so happy that I did. With an actor doing all the work for you, the accent and slang only added to the story. It felt like a language of absolute madness - frantic, nonsensical and relentless. With the story being told by main character, Alex, he often addresses the reader. His speech gives off a real sense of mental unrest and a lack of caring about his actions. He consistently talks with humour, and no empathy.
One of the most interesting parts to this book (to me, anyway) was the introduction; a letter to the reader from Anthony Burgess, written years after the acclaim of the book as well as the movie had reached its peak. In the letter, Burgess speaks of his disappointment to the fame of the novel. As with any great artist, it is not uncommon that one piece of their work will always be associated with them, and all their other feats will be forgotten and under appreciated. He also goes into detail about the differences between the British and American versions. The British publishers felt it was essential to include the final chapter, showing Alex's growth as a person - he ages and eventually finds violence dull. However, in the US, the publishers felt that the Americans could handle what the British couldn't - a character that truly is evil through and through, never reflects and never improves. Perhaps this is proved again by American Classics from Brett Easton Ellis?
Overall, I think this was a fantastic audiobook - a vision was truly brought to life where you can appreciate the levels of madness that Burgess was trying to convey through his protagonist. The violence is non-stop, and despite it being very constant and brutish, having it narrated by a main character that is oblivious to the horror of his actions, means everything is put forward in a nonchalant tone; take that as you will - maybe that makes it even more horrifying to read...
Initial Prediction: 3.5 stars
Final Rating: 4 stars
Publication Date: 1962 (my edition: 24 February 2000)
Publisher: Penguin Books
Genres: Science Fiction, Dystopian, Horror
# of Pages: 159