‘A Clockwork Orange’ by Anthony Burgess

If a man is deprived of the ability to choose between right and wrong (good and evil), is he still a man? Or does he lose the essential quality that makes him a person?

It would be very easy to just answer that yes, he would still be a man. A good man. Then you read ‘A Clockwork Orange’ and you’re not so sure anymore.

I had watched the film a couple of years ago, thinking: “This is a cult, I have to watch it.”

I didn’t understand. Like, anything.

I walked away thinking: “What the heck was that about?”

Then I stumbled on the book as I was dusting (sweeping) shelves at the Amnesty Bookshop (read here to know more about it). I decided to give it a try.

What I didn’t know… well, there were many things I didn’t know, but one of them was, the book it’s not written in common English. Anthony uses the language of teenagers, or at least what he thinks will be the language of teenagers, called Nadsat. It’s a mix of Latin and plainly odd words, which made me consider putting it down after only a couple of chapters.

But I soldiered on.

The ultraviolence wasn’t much of a surprise. Sickening, but having watched the film, I knew what I was getting into.

Alex is an unrepentant ‘droog’ of 15 years of age, who frequently stops at the Korova Milk Bar, where he and his other ‘droogs’ can enjoy a good glass of Milk Plus. Every evening, they walk the street in search for a target, so that they can have a go at the old Ultra-Violence.

However, something goes wrong and one of their victims doesn’t make it out alive. Alex alone is blamed, but the ‘StaJa’ (State Jail) is only the first step, because a brand new treatment is in town, something called the Ludovico’s Cure, that turns every criminal in the best fellow, completely incapable of hurting anybody.

More than that, he has no other option than to do good to anybody.

Although, if free will is gone, what kind of person has he really become?

 

I’d like to make a tiny note about this review: I decided to talk about the free-will issue because it’s the one that struck me the most. However, there would be a lot to talk about…

 

There’s a further note I’d like to make: I read the version that includes the last chapter (omitted in every version prior 1986). That chapter is missing in the film and oh! it makes all the difference…

 

Find more about this book on Goodreads.

Or you can get your copy of the book on Amazon.

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2 Comments

  1. I’d heard of it but for some reason had no idea what it was about before I read your post. It raises a compelling question, and I’m definitely interested in reading this book now!

    1. Rest assured, you are going to need a strong stomach. Even if I am starting to think that Game of Thrones is probably on the same level, nowadays..

      Do read it, then let me know what you think!

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