Friday, 2 July 2010

A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess

Another title from my TBR list, A Clockwork Orange (1962) is considered a sci-fi masterpiece by author Anthony Burgess. It is a novel in three parts about a boy, Alex, who seems perversely hardwired to enjoy a life of crime and destruction. Part 2 sees Alex in prison at the tender age of 15/17. While incarcerated, Alex is subjected to an experimental type of treatment which aims to ultimately reform prisoners in just two short weeks, but at what cost? The third part of the novel follows Alex after his release from prison as he tries to return to his former life as a reformed man. However, it simply doesn't work that way.

A Clockwork Orange is truly challenging and disturbing in both content and context. Although ultimately futuristic, it could be set at any time and exposes the reality and horrors of criminal minds and issues of reform. Who really is the victim? Where is the fine line between moral reform and punishment? And when is the means justifiable by the end result?

I initially struggled to interpret the language Burgess uses, a form of Russian-English combined with Cockney and rhyming slang. However, as I got into the flow of the novel, I realised that I didn't need to concentrate on deciphering individual words (although this does get easier) and could instead step back and absorb Alex's dialogue as a continuous stream of consciousness.

I'm glad I have finally read A Clockwork Orange, even though it was often an uncomfortable read. Although, I am in no rush to watch the movie of the same name, I'd never say never.


Kiwi Cakes said...

I read this in high school (prescribed text for our english class), it disturbed me, got me thinking. Still ogften think of the odd thing in it. Not sure it's the best read for impressionable teenagers.

anothercookiecrumbles said...

This was one of my favourite reads from last year - uncomfortable, yes, but still incredibly well-written and disturbing enough to stay with me long after I finished the book.

I sympathised with Alex - despite him having severe anti-social behavioural issues. The language, nadsat, was annoying initially, making the first few pages of the book incredibly slow. However, as you said, it got easier to understand the sentences, and the need to focus on all the individual words was reduced significantly.