Published by: William Heinemann (1962)
Rating: 9 / 10
As I grow older my taste in books and films changes and I am finding myself drawn more towards the so called “classics”. So when my girlfriend conveniently left her copy of “A Clockwork Orange” in my room one day I jumped at the chance to read Anthony Burgess’s famous tale of a young boy in a dystopian society doing as he pleases and eventually getting his comeuppance.
I’m sure everyone has heard of the book, thanks to Stanly Kubrick’s motion picture adaptation, of which i wasn’t too keen. Although they have quite a few differences the theme is still true, our protagonist or “your humble narrator”, as he likes to call himself is Alex, a 15 year old boy who during the day goes to school and listens to his classical music collection (most notably Ludwig Van) whilst during the night he is joined by his gang and partake in a bit of violence and rape. Although the subject matter is quite harsh at times, Burgess manages to fill every page with humorous dialogue and comical situations. The language Alex and his “droogs” or friends use is one of the biggest talking points of the novel, it took me personally about half the book to get used to it and figure or unlock it in my brain, but once I did I was loving it and laughing along as our narrator gets himself deeper and deeper in trouble. I’ve heard that some newer versions of the book have a glossary even for all the new words Burgess invents for his characters. A kind of cross between English and Russian slang. Women become Malchicks, seeing becomes viddy and laughing to yourself is referred to as “having a good smeck”.
Anthony Burgess has said on numerous occasions that he is displeased with how popular this book has become as it wasn’t one of his favourites and doesn’t like it taking away attention from his other works. If that is true then i must check out another of his novels as “A Clockwork Orange” has quickly become one of MY favourites and one that I most certainly will be revisiting.
It isn’t very long and there’s a small chunk in the middle that can drag quite a bit but despite its shortcomings it is a very pleasant, funny and, once you get through the initial slang talk they use, it is a very easy read.