on 7 August 2005
It's been quite a while since a book has impressed me so much. I didn't want to read it at first - it is, alongside Kubrick's film, infamous for its depiction of violence and brutality. Not really my sort of thing. But I picked it up idly one day and, once I'd started reading, found I couldn't stop.
The novel is set in a strange, dystopian future and focusses on the character of Alex, our 15 year old anti-hero, who spends his free time indulging in ultra-violence, theft, rape and classical music. What's amazing is how Burgess gradually makes the reader become so sympathetic to his 'hero'. Alex is bright, witty, defiant; openly confiding his thoughts and feelings to his audience - his "brothers". When the state locks him up and starts altering him with the morally dodgy "Ludovico Technique" one can't help but side with him against his 'doctors'.
Part of the book's genius is the fact it's so beautifully written and laid out. Burgess's surreal use of language is incredibly ingenious. He creates the wonderful 'nadsat' slang spoken by Alex and his friends (or 'droogs') through a combination of Russian and different styles of English. As a student of Russian, part of the fun was deciphering the words and sentences and every now and then exclaiming 'aha!' as meaning suddenly slotted into place.
Ultimately, this thought-provoking novel left me with lots to muse about. Questions on morality, society and, most importantly, an individual's free choice are brought up and it's left to the reader to ultimately decide what s/he thinks. The book jacket described this novel as 'one that every generation should read'. I really couldn't agree more.
on 17 May 2014
It is unfair to judge this book and say it is using a made up language as it is not. Burgess uses slang from the world that he created which obviously will make it a challenge however it is worth the challenge to read thid book. I found this edition very helpful due to the inclusion of a glossary for when I was struggling with the language. It truely is a classic in the way it was written I would highly recomend it to anyone studying english however not if you are easily effected by distressing content. Violence and rape is included in this book so don't read it if you can't handle it, although not described in imense super detail Burgess does go through what the boys do. I am very happy I bought this edition as the extara content is interesting and great for helping you further understand the novel, further more it is the nicest feeling book I have ever read and I would recomend buying this just to have a feel of the ridiculously smooth pages.
on 8 June 2014
If Burgess was alive today, I would congratulate him real horrorshow for writing the best novella ever written. In the story he uses a fictional language called nadsat which makes the violence easier to read through. The tale is very well written and easy to read once you get into the peculiar language. A Clockwork Orange is a truly satisfying and memorable novel which deserves way over 5 stars. Enjoy! And all that cal.
on 20 August 2016
I think I saw the film version of the book before I actually bit the bullet and read the book! I tried to read it at first, but got put off by the bizarre narrative, and shelved it for a while! Then, I went back to it later, and I am so glad I did! As I've translated other languages like French and Norwegian, I just applied my techniques to cracking the lingo used in this book! It's said, according to the entry of this book in the catalogue '1001 books you must read before you die', that Burgess based the language traded between Alex and his 'droogs' (Chums) on street gangs that he'd heard on his travels. The novel itself is set in a dystopian futuristic world, and centres on protagonist Alex, leader of just one of the many gangs running riot in the city, terrorising society on a nightly basis, with violence and dark sexual shenanigans. But things turn sour for Beethoven aficionado Alex, when his friends desert him during one such escapade, and he ends up in prison. However, he volunteers for a radical new technique as a governmental guinea pig, which stops him from committing offences. But, it all backfires when, by the same token, he is unable to defend himself if someone attacks him, making him very vulnerable. Once you come to grips with the somewhat zany language, you'll find it an enjoyable, and interesting experience. Well worth its five stars!
on 29 August 2000
Burgess's masterpiece, and to his own dismay a confirmed cult classic. He never escaped the influence or the infamy of this book, and I doubt he ever will, even in death. Alex, the 'Beethoven-loving' central character maraudes throughout a future dystopia with his three droogs without restraint in a disturbing and gripping tale told through in the language of 'Nadsat'; a bastardized conglomeration of nonsense and English.(The language may seem a little incomprehensible at first, but don't be dissuaded, the book wouldn't be half as good without it; in a way it's what makes it so original and you soon get used to it, or should I say fluent in it. I found myself using Nadsat phraseology in my own conversations while I was reading it, just for fun).That is until he is betrayed by his droogs and imprisoned. The real message of the book then begins to appear however, and all the violence that assaults us in the first part of the book suddenly serves its purpose. While imprisoned Alex agrees to become a guinea pig in an experiment; an experiment to alter his mind, to cure him of all wicked impulses. He agrees in the hope that he will be let out of jail early, and he gets his wish. He is systematically brainwashed with aversion therapy, until he cannot willfully inflict harm on anyone without becoming violently nauseous. And so fully cured, he walks free. Then his troubles really begin, because he no longer has the ability to cope with the dystopia he previously relished for all its anarchy. He gets beaten up by his former droogs, now policemen, and is subjected to a number of encounters in which his former victims are able to take their revenge for his former deeds. Eventually he depairs and tries to kill himself, and in doing so becomes the centre of attention as the politicians try to use him to win their arguments concerning the brainwashing scheme. The book ends on a hopeful and cheery note though, a point many people forget to mention, and by the last page Alex's adventure has almost become a rite of passage.
on 1 May 2016
I don't think I quite got this book. Its seen as a classic and has banned because of its graphic violent nature. But to be honest i'm not quite sure why. To reinforce the gang culture (i think) Burgess has made up a new slang language for the character, which lead me to spend a lot of time thinking 'what has he just done?'. The version that I had didn't have a glossary of the slang so I was just left to puzzle it out and I feel that this detracted from the horror/shock factor that the book is known for.
That's not to say that the book could be full of fluffy bunnies and butterflies. The book does portray Alex leading a very violent and brutal life. He is sentenced to prison and then experimented on, in an attempt to make him a 'nice' person. What actually happens is he is conditioned in a way that should be banned against using in all animals and humans.
The book raises many questions and I could see many interesting debates arising. In that respects this is a must read. But it takes effort and brain power. Its not a quick, easy if horrifying book that I thought it may be.
Not sure if I want to watch the film or not, I normally will after reading a book that has been converted. May give it a miss this time.
on 5 June 2016
I love the linguistics of this book. It is so clever how the language is both devolving and evolving in this book.
But I don't see why this book is so controversial because, despite people saying you sympathise with Alex, I don't see that because I didn't necessarily LIKE him as a person but I wanted to follow him along. He was sneaky, selfish and sly but the conclusion at the end is great because of the change he experiences. I feel like this book is likeable as it is not very long with an interesting story so definitely read it!
By the way, the cover of the book is not necessarily the same as the one in the picture. It really depends on where you end up buying it from. Mine is jet black with grey lettering that says 'BANNED BOOKS' on the front and the name of the book on the spine - I am not unhappy with it. Obviously this does not detract from the content of the book but I was surprised to see the cover was different. Bear that in mind when buying.
on 21 December 2015
In Anthony Burgess's nightmare (ultra-violent) depiction of the future, where criminals take over after dark, the story is told by the central character/protagonist, Alex, who talks in a brutal invented slang (Nadsat, a fictional register or argot, a form of Russian-influenced English) 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.
The use of Nadsat can be relatively confusing for the reader, however, you slowly begin to understand the terminology while progressing through the novel. This is an interesting tool as it acts as a buffer for the reader, protecting them from the horror initially and then opening up and divulging the gritty details as the plot develops.
on 11 February 2016
This book is incredible. The themes of the story are still as relevant as they were then. Ethics, morality, choice, are still important topics that are discussed regularly throughout life. I'm aware of the controversial nature of this book due to the violence that takes place but after reading it, I can't help but wonder if part of the reason it was banned was due to the probably (sadly and worryingly) quite accurate depiction of governments. This is a very thought-provoking read. The only thing that stopped this from being a 5 star review, was because I really didn't like the ending in the edition I read, which had the famous missing last chapter that isn't in a lot of other editions and, I must say, I wish that chapter had remained missing. I thought it brought down the intelligence and grit of the rest of the book.
on 10 October 2006
A clockwork orange is in a word: disturbing.
The novel follows a short amount of time in the life of our fifteen year old narrator, Alex. Alex is the leader of a gang in a distopian future, where gangs like his oversee a reign of terror on the streets which the police force is not large enough or powerful enough to control.
During the novel, we see Alex beat up a number of people, including ripping an innocent man's teeth out, we see him steal, we see him lead a gang rape on a woman and we see him murder an old lady in her home, all from his persepctive. He is eventually arrested and put in prison, where he kills again and is put through a rigorous, experimental proccess to 'cure' him of the badness in him.
As you might expect from this little synopsis, it is a very disturbing read, especially when you consider the character committing all these atrocities is only fifteen years old. However, the fact that the story is told from Alex's view is one of the most intersting parts of this book, as first of all you'll notice he speaks in a futuristic slang, which at first is rather confusing but eventually becomes pretty easy to understand as you work out what word means what, and the language should by no means put you off buying it, indeed it should be one of the main reasons for you buying it. But also intersting is how Alex speaks in such a way of his activities as to make them sound sort of incidental, and play them down, and also when he has been arrested and feels he is being mistreated, it is written in a way as to make us feel sorry for him even though we know we shouldn't because he is a serial criminal.
The image painted of the future by Burgess is a highly disturbing one and does really make you think. The most powerful concept he raises is how far we're willing to go to enforce law and make people 'good,' and whether or not it is right to remove the choice involved in being good or bad, and how much of an infringement on a humans rights it is, no matter how bad a person they are.
Overall, it is a highly evocative, thought provoking and imaginitive piece of literature, the book is written like nothing I have ever read before and is a piece of wonderful innovation, the image of the future Burgess paints is disturbing, but fascinating at the same time, the same can be said of our 'hero' Alex, and also the issues raised are ones that are still relevant today and will truly make you think. I urge you not to be put off by the bizzare writing, which at first glance my look complex, but once you get the hang of it, it makes perfect sense and adds greatly to the book. I highly recommend this as a brilliant, innovative work of genius.