A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess Review

IMG_3987This book, is one of the many books on my to-read list that I posted in my recommendations page. My mother, coincidentally gave me a copy of this book that she read at school. Wow, it’s as if it was just meant to be. I know that this is the original cover of the book which I guess is why I was so excited to have it.

The actually story itself, is something quite unique and mind-confuzzling. But, it is definitely a must-read for all aspiring writers and book-lovers because it is a piece of work that I personally think surpasses a lot of the talent that we see around us these days.

The book is classified as a dystopian novel which was published in 1962. It is set in a ‘newer’ England where violence among teens is progressing and our narrator, Alex, is a part of it. The text itself is written in a Russian-style argot (which is known as a secret language that is used among groups so outsiders have difficulties understanding what they are trying to convey). This particular argot is known as Nadsat which is a fictional argot. As I am quite interested in the study of the English Language, this book especially caught my interest as while the plot developed your mind clicks and you start to understand words and associate them with meanings you already know such as “droog” meaning “friends”.

Here is a small summary for you to understand the plot of this book if you’re interested in maybe picking it up:

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 are a Literature student or a general lover of books, I definitely think you need to add this book to your collection. It is definitely a thought-provoking read that also makes you admire the wonders that a writer can create.


Now, if you’ve read the book, or have a copy of this book, I’m just curious as to whether you have the infamous ‘Chapter 21’. This chapter, which provides closure and a sense of personal growth in Alex wasn’t published in the United States for 24 years. There have been assumptions that the more positive ending that leaves a hint of optimism wasn’t preferred. People assume that maybe some people prefer the more ‘evil’ ending as it just reveals Alex can never change as he will always be the same bad character. I personally preferred the concluding chapter. It gave a sense of relief and almost catharsis as the story finally came to a close after all the horrors that had occurred.

The main narrator himself was a bit of an unlikeable character. I think, for me, the only redeeming quality I really liked was his fascination with classical music. It was almost as if he became another person when he listened to it, allowing himself to get lost inside these pieces. The scene where they used Beethoven’s music in one of the movies and he got so angry was sort of painful to read as I could see how it was almost like his Achilles’ heel.

I really was fascinated by this concept that they used to try to “turn him good”. This treatment is referred to as the Ludovico technique which consists of Alex being forced to sit in front of a viewing room and watch horrifying events and having something run through his system that automatically repulses him from this images to the point where he wants to throw up. I think the question here is whether this is a fair thing to do. Should you be able to take away somebody’s free will and make them into your “ideal citizen”? Alex at this point ceases to be human as he has no choice in his opinions and feelings.

There are multiple mini storylines that occur throughout this book that I could delve into and talk about such as Alex’s other droogs who are wrongly placed in positions of authority, the man who originally wrote the story “A Clockwork Orange” that Alex had previously beaten up and technically killed his wife, and Alex’s adventures with his family and the prison he was held in but, I feel that those are just parts that surround the question Anthony Burgess wants to ask. The essential key to this story is the question of morality and a person’s choice that they make in similar situations that Alex faces. A majority of us would not have done any of the actions he did, but does that mean we can then take the position to change his mindset into a robotic reaction against his own thoughts?

Language/Style: 9 points
Characters: 7 points
Story: 8 points
Plot: 7 points

Giving this book a total of 3o points out of 40.

Favorite Part:We can destroy what we have written, but we cannot unwrite it.”

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