Monday, 13 June 2011

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (4.5/5)


The back says: In Anthony Burgess’s nightmare vision of youth culture in revolt, fifteen-year-old Alex and his friends set out on a diabolical orgy of robbery, rape, torture and murder. Alex is jailed for his teenage delinquency and the State tries to reform him – but at what cost?

I say: This.

I can’t decide if I think that Burgess is a genius or if he’s just taking us all for a ride.

A very intense one.

First off, the language. It shocked me. I had somehow managed to stay clear of all things A Clockwork Orange related my entire life. Sure, I had heard about it, just like I’ve heard about goblins;

it just didn’t register.

That is the most confusing part for me, because it took a while for me to stop my rebelling brain from trying to make sense of all these new words. And as soon as I stopped focusing too much, they started making sense.

As these things often do.

Anywho, this is such a disturbing little thing – on so many levels. The behaviour of Alex and his “friends” shocked me, because I’ve never been able to comprehend accept senseless violence, and because Burgess describes it in such detail. This is where I’m mildly grateful for this strange new language with words that don’t hold the same power. As much as I can’t get over how disturbing it was to be inside Alex’s head in the first part of the book, it became even more terrifying in the third; and not just because of what they did to Alex, but because of how he reacted to it in the final chapter.

Not to mention the old men in the library.

I think I’m a little bit in love with Burgess for this, because I could go on for days about it – if only I had anyone willing to listen. There are just so many layers and I risk going into essay-mode if I start now. I love nothing more than a read that gets me thinking (well, maybe a read that breaks my heart), and I would give this the full 5/5 if it weren’t for the little issue of still not being able to decide if it’s perfection or just taking the piss.

Aside: Random thing is, I've always read the title as a clockwork that is orange, not an orange with a clockwork. It's so weird because I keep thinking of the former since I've been pronouncing it as such for so long, laying emphasis on the 'clockwork' and not the 'orange'. The more you know.

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