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A Clockwork Orange Paperback – April 17, 1995
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“A brilliant novel... a savage satire on the distortions of the single and collective minds.”
- New York Times
“Looks like a nasty little shocker, but is really that rare thing in English letters: a philosophical novel.”
“I do not know of any other writer who has done as much with language as Mr. Burgess has done here ― the fact that this is also a very funny book may pass unnoticed.”
- William S. Burroughs
“A terrifying and marvelous book.”
- Roald Dahl
About the Author
Anthony Burgess (1917–1993) is the author of many works, including A Clockwork Orange, The Wanting Seed, Nothing Like the Sun, Honey for the Bears, The Long Day Wanes, The Doctor Is Sick, and ReJoyce.
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This book is very "adult" and I can't recommend it to anyone that is too young. I would say maybe high school age is the youngest someone should read it.
Bought both the Hardcover and Paperback editions. Really like the hardcover because it looks exactly like the original version that was published when the book first came out. Paperback is fine but the material is very thin and slippery. So point being, it's an easy tear if you're not too careful.
The story takes place is run-down version of London, following Alex, a gang leader whose two loves are gratuitous violence and classical music. After a robbery gone bad, Alex ends us a test subject for a new treatment to turn bad men good.
Burgess has developed a style on his own to write this book. The novel uses a massive amount of future slang that is at first super confusing. But after a few paragraphs, you'll be able to figure out what everything means. It certainly makes for an interesting experience.
The introduction for this edition is also notable, in that it directly calls attention to the novels main flaw. Like I said, Burgess himself doesn't like this book that much, citing the fact that he felt his themes of free will and morality were to heavy handed. And they are. But I feel like the book is worth reading in spite of that.
This intentionally ambiguous conclusion tops off the careful structure of the novel, which is divided into three sections, with the first and third providing mirrored bookends to the center section. In the first section, Alex (or Your Humble Narrator) and his droogs (who all speak a slang vernacular called Nadsat) wreak havoc among their community—attacking and beating a library patron, committing robbery, rape, and other heinous crimes. In the second section, Alex—after being arrested and imprisoned—undergoes a radical form of rehabilitation that conditions him against violence. In section three, Alex is released from prison after having been allegedly cured of his violent disposition. He then encounters all the victims of the crimes he committed in the first section. Throughout, Alex comments on the vapid meaninglessness of the world—his response to which will inform your understanding of the novel’s central themes, which in turn depends upon that final chapter.
This novel has earned its reputation as a contemporary classic, if a book published more than 50 years ago can be considered contemporary. Its profundity eclipses its brief length (barely more than 200 pages); nihilistic or not, *A Clockwork Orange* confronts you with frightening questions about the human capacity for violence and human nature itself.
The language used develops within the story itself and can take a minute to warm up to. The slang that Burgess invented for this novel is not explicitly defined for the reader and some of these words can take a few uses to catch on to, or did for me at least.
This is a book to buy, not just borrow from the library or a friend because it gets better and the meaning deeper with each re-read. It is one that I have had since high-school and still go back to every few years and get something else out of it.
**Trigger Warning/Content Warning** This book does contain ultra-violence and one scene is of a sexually violent nature. For me it was certainly not enough to negate the overall experience of the novel, but for some who are exceptionally upset by this it may be.