Category: Anthony Burgess

book review – A Clockwork Orange

Whenever you read a book that has become infamous not only because of a film version but because of its violent content then you are going to struggle to come to it with an open mind. The other problem is that the message from Anthony Burgess’s book gets lost a little bit in a film that is remembered more for its costumes, fight scenes and having eyes pinned back by those trying to brainwash criminality out of the lead character Alex.

I am sure that I read somewhere that Burgess did not like the film and it is possible to see why because the endings are different. It is not until the end of the book that there is any real sign of hope for Alex.

As a reader you go from fearing the main character to hating him and then having not only sympathy but at the end even a hint of admiration for the stage he has reached on his journey of discovery.

But a constant challenge for the reader is the language and because Alex and his friends speak in a teenage slang of their own it acts not only to divide them from the adults but also make it clear that this is not someone the average reader can easily identify with. The combination of a classical music loving fifteen year old who is also capable of robbery and rape is something that is meant to be disturbing. To some extent it feels as if the examples of the violence are being laid on too deep with Alex and company moving from terrorising a library visitor, a store owner and then the rape and beating of an author. But the reasons for the various set pieces of violence becomes clear after Alex is released from prison.

But Burgess is not just making a comment here about the violence and alienation of youth but is also damming the prison system that seems to be unable to cope with offenders and has no real answer for straightening them out and sending them back into society.

Alex goes from one extreme to the other after he is brainwashed into being meek rather than violent and the cure seems to be at the expense of the ability to choose how to act in certain situations.

Understandably because he is the first to go through the treatment Alex becomes a political football but the end result is that no one has the answer and he can only be made into ultra violent or ultra meek. In the end he cures himself of his extremes by maturing out of his violence.

There is also another theme running through the book with Burgess tackling the thorny issue of parental obligation and the consequences of a breakdown of the relationship between parent and child and the consequential absence of love. The idea that Alex might be a victim all along is hinted at and becomes clear after his parents abandon his memory after he goes to prison.

This book is a challenge to read because of the language but well worth persevering with because it speaks about the alienation of teenagers, the inability of both parents and the state to cope with that and how most official responses are inappropriate. In an age when anti social behaviour orders are being handed out left right and centre this book has a message that is incredibly relevant for the here and now.

Version read – Penguin paperback

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book review – A Clockwork Orange


Whenever you read a book that has become infamous not only because of a film version but because of its violent content then you are going to struggle to come to it with an open mind. The other problem is that the message from Anthony Burgess’s book gets lost a little bit in a film that is remembered more for its costumes, fight scenes and having eyes pinned back by those trying to brainwash criminality out of the lead character Alex.

I am sure that I read somewhere that Burgess did not like the film and it is possible to see why because the endings are different. It is not until the end of the book that there is any real sign of hope for Alex.

As a reader you go from fearing the main character to hating him and then having not only sympathy but at the end even a hint of admiration for the stage he has reached on his journey of discovery.

But a constant challenge for the reader is the language and because Alex and his friends speak in a teenage slang of their own it acts not only to divide them from the adults but also make it clear that this is not someone the average reader can easily identify with. The combination of a classical music loving fifteen year old who is also capable of robbery and rape is something that is meant to be disturbing. To some extent it feels as if the examples of the violence are being laid on too deep with Alex and company moving from terrorising a library visitor, a store owner and then the rape and beating of an author. But the reasons for the various set pieces of violence becomes clear after Alex is released from prison.

But Burgess is not just making a comment here about the violence and alienation of youth but is also damming the prison system that seems to be unable to cope with offenders and has no real answer for straightening them out and sending them back into society.

Alex goes from one extreme to the other after he is brainwashed into being meek rather than violent and the cure seems to be at the expense of the ability to choose how to act in certain situations.

Understandably because he is the first to go through the treatment Alex becomes a political football but the end result is that no one has the answer and he can only be made into ultra violent or ultra meek. In the end he cures himself of his extremes by maturing out of his violence.

There is also another theme running through the book with Burgess tackling the thorny issue of parental obligation and the consequences of a breakdown of the relationship between parent and child and the consequential absence of love. The idea that Alex might be a victim all along is hinted at and becomes clear after his parents abandon his memory after he goes to prison.

This book is a challenge to read because of the language but well worth persevering with because it speaks about the alienation of teenagers, the inability of both parents and the state to cope with that and how most official responses are inappropriate. In an age when anti social behaviour orders are being handed out left right and centre this book has a message that is incredibly relevant for the here and now.

Version read – Penguin paperback

book review – A Clockwork Orange


Whenever you read a book that has become infamous not only because of a film version but because of its violent content then you are going to struggle to come to it with an open mind. The other problem is that the message from Anthony Burgess’s book gets lost a little bit in a film that is remembered more for its costumes, fight scenes and having eyes pinned back by those trying to brainwash criminality out of the lead character Alex.

I am sure that I read somewhere that Burgess did not like the film and it is possible to see why because the endings are different. It is not until the end of the book that there is any real sign of hope for Alex.

As a reader you go from fearing the main character to hating him and then having not only sympathy but at the end even a hint of admiration for the stage he has reached on his journey of discovery.

But a constant challenge for the reader is the language and because Alex and his friends speak in a teenage slang of their own it acts not only to divide them from the adults but also make it clear that this is not someone the average reader can easily identify with. The combination of a classical music loving fifteen year old who is also capable of robbery and rape is something that is meant to be disturbing. To some extent it feels as if the examples of the violence are being laid on too deep with Alex and company moving from terrorising a library visitor, a store owner and then the rape and beating of an author. But the reasons for the various set pieces of violence becomes clear after Alex is released from prison.

But Burgess is not just making a comment here about the violence and alienation of youth but is also damming the prison system that seems to be unable to cope with offenders and has no real answer for straightening them out and sending them back into society.

Alex goes from one extreme to the other after he is brainwashed into being meek rather than violent and the cure seems to be at the expense of the ability to choose how to act in certain situations.

Understandably because he is the first to go through the treatment Alex becomes a political football but the end result is that no one has the answer and he can only be made into ultra violent or ultra meek. In the end he cures himself of his extremes by maturing out of his violence.

There is also another theme running through the book with Burgess tackling the thorny issue of parental obligation and the consequences of a breakdown of the relationship between parent and child and the consequential absence of love. The idea that Alex might be a victim all along is hinted at and becomes clear after his parents abandon his memory after he goes to prison.

This book is a challenge to read because of the language but well worth persevering with because it speaks about the alienation of teenagers, the inability of both parents and the state to cope with that and how most official responses are inappropriate. In an age when anti social behaviour orders are being handed out left right and centre this book has a message that is incredibly relevant for the here and now.

Version read – Penguin paperback

book review – A Clockwork Orange


Whenever you read a book that has become infamous not only because of a film version but because of its violent content then you are going to struggle to come to it with an open mind. The other problem is that the message from Anthony Burgess’s book gets lost a little bit in a film that is remembered more for its costumes, fight scenes and having eyes pinned back by those trying to brainwash criminality out of the lead character Alex.

I am sure that I read somewhere that Burgess did not like the film and it is possible to see why because the endings are different. It is not until the end of the book that there is any real sign of hope for Alex.

As a reader you go from fearing the main character to hating him and then having not only sympathy but at the end even a hint of admiration for the stage he has reached on his journey of discovery.

But a constant challenge for the reader is the language and because Alex and his friends speak in a teenage slang of their own it acts not only to divide them from the adults but also make it clear that this is not someone the average reader can easily identify with. The combination of a classical music loving fifteen year old who is also capable of robbery and rape is something that is meant to be disturbing. To some extent it feels as if the examples of the violence are being laid on too deep with Alex and company moving from terrorising a library visitor, a store owner and then the rape and beating of an author. But the reasons for the various set pieces of violence becomes clear after Alex is released from prison.

But Burgess is not just making a comment here about the violence and alienation of youth but is also damming the prison system that seems to be unable to cope with offenders and has no real answer for straightening them out and sending them back into society.

Alex goes from one extreme to the other after he is brainwashed into being meek rather than violent and the cure seems to be at the expense of the ability to choose how to act in certain situations.

Understandably because he is the first to go through the treatment Alex becomes a political football but the end result is that no one has the answer and he can only be made into ultra violent or ultra meek. In the end he cures himself of his extremes by maturing out of his violence.

There is also another theme running through the book with Burgess tackling the thorny issue of parental obligation and the consequences of a breakdown of the relationship between parent and child and the consequential absence of love. The idea that Alex might be a victim all along is hinted at and becomes clear after his parents abandon his memory after he goes to prison.

This book is a challenge to read because of the language but well worth persevering with because it speaks about the alienation of teenagers, the inability of both parents and the state to cope with that and how most official responses are inappropriate. In an age when anti social behaviour orders are being handed out left right and centre this book has a message that is incredibly relevant for the here and now.

Version read – Penguin paperback

Lunchtime read: A Clockwork Orange

Work has been manic today and looks like being that way until we go to press late on Thursday night. All I have been able to do is squeeze the last few pages of Clock Work Orange past my eyes and it was worth it.

The language might be difficult but after a while you actually start to enjoy it and I particularly liked his reference to cigarettes as ‘cancer’s cutting straight to the truth. In the end Alex finds his speech is both the trigger that jogs the memory of one of his victims as well as something that is there to be ridiculed by those who have left that sort of life behind.

In the end you start wondering where Alex is going to go with the potential for him to become cured and get back into his old ways. Things take the inevitable turn as Alex starts to relax in the home of his protector who realises that the young man was responsible for the rape and death of his wife. Before he can take any revenge his friends take Alex away and pipe in music with the effect of driving him to the point where suicide seems to be the only way out.

Alex does land on the pavement and it looks as if he has helped smash the government by trying to kill himself. But politics being what it is he is deprogrammed and the government says that it will help him get back on his feet and he gets a job in the state music archive.

In his evenings he is back out with a gang trying to get up to the old tricks but the joy has gone out if it. He leaves his droogs in the pub and goes for a walk and comes across a coffee bar and there meets the one member of his old gang who has not been mentioned since he went to prison. Peter is with his wife and the shock of seeing someone grown up and worrying about jobs and money hits Alex hard and he realises that he has grown out of the desire to destroy and instead wants to join the human race and become an adult, husband and father.

A review will follow towards the weekend…

Lunchtime read: A Clockwork Orange

Work has been manic today and looks like being that way until we go to press late on Thursday night. All I have been able to do is squeeze the last few pages of Clock Work Orange past my eyes and it was worth it.

The language might be difficult but after a while you actually start to enjoy it and I particularly liked his reference to cigarettes as ‘cancer’s cutting straight to the truth. In the end Alex finds his speech is both the trigger that jogs the memory of one of his victims as well as something that is there to be ridiculed by those who have left that sort of life behind.

In the end you start wondering where Alex is going to go with the potential for him to become cured and get back into his old ways. Things take the inevitable turn as Alex starts to relax in the home of his protector who realises that the young man was responsible for the rape and death of his wife. Before he can take any revenge his friends take Alex away and pipe in music with the effect of driving him to the point where suicide seems to be the only way out.

Alex does land on the pavement and it looks as if he has helped smash the government by trying to kill himself. But politics being what it is he is deprogrammed and the government says that it will help him get back on his feet and he gets a job in the state music archive.

In his evenings he is back out with a gang trying to get up to the old tricks but the joy has gone out if it. He leaves his droogs in the pub and goes for a walk and comes across a coffee bar and there meets the one member of his old gang who has not been mentioned since he went to prison. Peter is with his wife and the shock of seeing someone grown up and worrying about jobs and money hits Alex hard and he realises that he has grown out of the desire to destroy and instead wants to join the human race and become an adult, husband and father.

A review will follow towards the weekend…

Lunchtime read: A Clockwork Orange

No doubt this could have been finished off in one sitting but having bought a new bike at the weekend I needed my lunch hour to work out how to fold it away and get it in the bag that came with it. On the face of it sounds simple but it didn’t work well on the way in so needs a bit of practice before heading home. As a result theses are the thoughts from the twenty or so pages after the start of part three around the page 100 mark.

Having been released from prison a series of rather unfortunate coincidences means that Alex and his programming not to revert to violence are tested to the limit.

Firstly he discovers that his parents have taken in a lodger, the police have taken and sold all of his property and his old home is eerily clean and looks taken care of.. The reason why the place is not smashed up by young hooligans becomes clear after Alex is rescued by the police after being beaten up in the library.

The incident in the library is sparked because Alex is recognised by the first victim in the story and the old man who had his books torn, clothes and money stolen is joined by his aged friends who deliver a gentle but disturbing kicking to young Alex.

But things take an even more surreal turn when the police turn up to help him with Dim and Billy there leader of the gang they were in mortal combat with having joined the police. They are only too happy to hand out a real kicking to Alex and leave him in the country miles from the city.

The only option is to crawl to a friendly home and he manages to stumble on the very place his gang went to before where they raped the wife and beat up the husband. The wife has gone, dying of the shame and injuries of that night and the husband cannot recognise Alex. He shows kindness and love to the young man who he believes backs up his theory that the government is trying to turn everyone into clockwork oranges.

Final thoughts tomorrow..