A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

Read: 20 February, 2009

In this infamous classic, young Alex is an ultra-violent teen who revels in rape, robbery, and in beating up members of the older generations. When a robbery goes sour and Alex is betrayed by his closest droogs, he finds himself in jail with a very long sentence for murder. But there is still hope for our young narrator. Alex is given the opportunity to test a new system that promises to end all crime by turning the most depraved devils into perfect angels. But the prison chaplain has his reservations. Is it right for the government to keep the peace by creating clockwork oranges?

POSITIVE: The language play is amazing. I have the benefit of knowing a little Russian, but this is by no means necessary. Alex’s switches between Nadsat and his “gentleman’s goloss” add a great deal of layering to the novel. Burgess is also able to preach without bogging down the story. Finally, the humour is fantastic and, at times, very clever.

NEGATIVE: All that violence can be hard to read and Burgess’s writing style makes it all the more vivid. I spent much of the novel in a cringe. Had it not been for the distancing provided by Nadsat, I might not have been able to make it through. Even so, the violence does serve a purpose to the story and cannot be said to be gratuitous.

Overall, I would say that this is a very readable novel and would be most appropriate for scholars and teens. Those with more sensitive dispositions may wish to stay away!

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