Friday, July 13, 2007

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

Rating: 10/10

Published: 1962
Number of pages: 141
ISBN: 0141182605

Started: 29 May 2007
Finished: 4 June 2007

Summary (taken from blurb):

Fifteen-year-old Alex doesn't just like ultra-violence - he also enjoys rape, drugs and Beethoven's Ninth. He and his gang rampage through a dystopian future, hunting for terrible thrills. But when Alex finds himself at the mercy of the state and subject to the ministrations of Dr Brodsky, the government psychologist, he discovers that fun is no longer the order of the day...

The basis for one of the most notorious films ever made, A Clockwork Orange is both a virtuoso performance from an electrifying prose stylist and a serious exploration of the morality of free will.

A Clockwork Orange is a frightening and sad look at a future society in which gangs are rife and no one can be trusted. Not being one that can stomach much in the way of violence and rape, I was a bit wary about reading this book; but my desire to read another dystopian classic won out. There were a couple of disturbing scenes, but it wasn't too bad overall.

Burgess has done a great job with the language in this book; the narrator, Alex, and his friends ('droogies') speak a slang language referred to as 'nadsat'. If this had a been a made-up language, it probably would have detracted from the story, but Burgess, a linguist, has based a lot of these words in Russian or Cockney rhyming slang. It took a while to get used to (a bit distracting early on) but I found a good translation of nadsat on the web which I referred to when needed. By the end of the book, nadsat had become almost second nature and it was a lot of fun to read.

You would think that Alex would be a very unsympathetic character, and he certainly is, at first. By the middle of the book, however, I found myself feeling very sorry for him, which I suppose can only be understood when you read the book. This is a terrific read and quite touching in some places, and funny in others. Very highly recommended. Now to decide whether I can stomach the movie...

No comments: