A Clockwork Orange

A Clockwork Orange

by Anthony Burgess

Paperback((Reissue, 1995))

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Great Music, it said, and Great Poetry would like quieten Modern Youth down and make Modern Youth more Civilized. Civilized my syphilised yarbles.

A vicious fifteen-year-old droog is the central character of this 1963 classic. In Anthony Burgess's nightmare vision of the future, where the criminals take over after dark, the story is told by the central character, Alex, who talks in a brutal invented slang that brilliantly renders his and his friends' social pathology. A Clockwork Orange is a frightening fable about good and evil, and the meaning of human freedom. When the state undertakes to reform Alex to "redeem" him, the novel asks, "At what cost?" This edition includes the controversial last chapter not published in the first edition and Burgess's introduction "A Clockwork Orange Resucked."

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393312836
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 04/17/1995
Series: Norton Paperback Fiction Series
Edition description: (Reissue, 1995)
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 14,354
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.70(d)
Lexile: 1310L (what's this?)

About the Author

Anthony Burgess (1917–1993) is the author of many works, including The Wanting Seed, Nothing Like the Sun, and Re Joyce. A Clockwork Orange is one of the "100 best novels" of both Time magazine and Modern Library and is on David Bowie's Book List.

What People are Saying About This

Roald Dahl

A terrifying and marvelous book.

Irvine Welsh

One of the most groundbreaking and influential novels of all time—and one of the best.

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A Clockwork Orange (Norton Critical Edition) 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 471 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book goes after some truly weighty subjects in a short time frame. Burgess tells the story of his narrator, Alex, who is a clearly intelligent young man who has focused his youthful talents on setting out each night to terrorize the innocent citizens of a futuristic London.
The book is famous for Burgess' heavy use of a made-up slang that a committed reader will pick up quickly using context clues. It actually serves to focus your attention on the book rather than as a distraction. Further, Burgess uses the slang to differentiate groups of characters within the book and, in some of the book's most interesting moments, one side of a character from another side within himself. The dichotomies created are very clear without being ham-fisted. Very well done.
Burgess really creates a gritty, enveloping sense of place and mood as Alex and his pals meander through the city. As the reader, you simultaneously feel their sense of power (empty though it may be) and the victim's sense of fear and helplessness. Another great exploration of the duality of character within each of us, and yet this is still just a warm up for the main event!
The story hits its peak once Alex is sold out by his pals and captured by the police (who aren't really good guys). Alex volunteers/is chosen for a new procedure which will "cure" him of his evil tendencies. The scenes of brainwashing that follow are wonderfully crafted and this whole segment of the book artfully asks whether it is better to have a choice between good and evil when only a portion of us will choose good, or whether it is better for all of us to be good even at the cost of our free will. It's a tremendous look at freedom vs. authoritarianism in all its forms.
As Alex is released back into the world, we see the flip side of his original self, someone incapable of any form of evil. The string of events that follows brings up as many penetrating questions for the reader as any other portion of the book. Alex finishes (if you get a book with the 21st chapter - make sure you do) slightly older, with more perspective on his situation.
A book about the two sides, we all have within us and the freedom some of us have, and some of us lack to let the two sides out. Highly recommended, you can see why this one has stood the test of time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The reason I started reading this was because someone gave me a shirt with Stewie from Family Guy dressed as Alex, not know that was who he was potraying. Anyway, one of my teachers recognized it and told me I shouldn't read the book or watch the movie because of it's content. I didn't listen- I was too intreged- and went out and got the book. I am so glad I did what I did. I read it cover to cover, then read it again. I was so shocked at the boldness and brilliance of a simple novel- scratch that, it's not simple at all. It is riviting. I am still only a child- a teenager, if you will- and I have to say this is probably going to be one of my all time favorite books. The use of the slang, Nadsat, is quite clever and even catchy. After reading it, I spoke in mild Nadsat for quite a while- I still am. Anyway, this is a near perfect novel. I absolutly love it. It is even shocking. A warning, though- this is not a book for the faint at heart. If you can't take some graphic sence and brutal honesty without a trace of shame to be told (sometimes), I will not suggest you partake in this literary adventure. For everyone else, read the book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A book potent with unchecked violence, A Clockwork Orange addresses the need of the presence of evil in order for good to exist. Alex, the epitome of such malevolence, is a barbaric character that captures the essence of a criminal's need to instill fear and harm in others. As the story unfolds, Alex's moral choice is ripped away via classical conditioning: music, in which he once found a twisted pleasure, causes him physical pain instead, preventing him from unleashing any more harm on his fellow human beings. Despite his apparent 'treatment', Alex is still thrust into malignant situations. Written by a prominent Catholic, the book depicts an absence of religion and morals in a future society. By doing so, Anthony Burgess directly answers a question asked by many: if a god exists, why does he permit the world to live in such an evil state? He insists that man needs to have the choice of doing something right in order for it to be done in pure righteousness. Religious views aside, many people would be able to get into reading this book. The language is unlike any other written before it, as the criminal youth speak in a fictional dialogue that depicts their unrefined, savage nature. The manner in which life is governed in the book, whether bullied by Alex and his 'droogs' or the government's unethical rehabilitation of criminals, raises questions about the treatment of others. Despite the sometimes-disturbing images in this book, I definitely recommend this book to those who wish to read in order to gain something. A Clockwork Orange has much to offer.
Underdog92 More than 1 year ago
I have currently started a list of books that I want to read before I die. The list includes many classics as well as books that I have read or am fond of reading. When I picked this book up and read the introduction by Mr. Bugess, I was immediately sucked in by his speech on morality. After reading this book, I can say nothing but wow. Honestly, I am not sure if I have ever read a book like A Clockwork Orange. It stretches the mind and opens one's eyes to the luxuries of free will. Definately a must read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was shocked at first at the honesty of this book. But after I got past this and learned the language which is a bit rough, I went on an incredible journey. First, questioning the innocence of youth and then hating the "solution" to the problem. I was very thankful for the happy ending and cannot imagine the book without its 21st chapter. I have no idea what the orginal American publisher was thinking by not including it. This book becomes a great story in its last chapter.
Maris_Stella More than 1 year ago
I read this book in college after a friend's recommendation. He was also a fan of Phil Dick, who was the topic of discussion for writing dark, futuristic dystopias. This story was in a similar theme. It was a difficult at first, but then I remembered that I took a class in Russian - which helped with the slang then it was a quick read. I enjoyed the pace and matter of fact storytelling from the main character. He is a complete sociopath and his reformation is just as disturbing as his criminal lifestyle.
japhyryder More than 1 year ago
A Clockwork Orange I had mixed feeling about this book. Seeing the film before reading the novel, I had an idea of what I was getting myself into. But the book was a lot more detailed and explicit then I remembered from the film. Some pretty brutal and nasty scenes where left out of the film for obvious reasons. This was the reason I disliked the book, it took my mind to places I didn¿t want to go. It took me into to the mind of a sick a demented character, and author. But as I got used to the sick and disturbing visuals this book described, it got easier to read without crenching. Another part of the book that I found hard to get used to was the slang he used. I had to keep on turning to my ¿Word Guide to A Clockwork Orange¿ everytime I came across a word I didn¿t know, and there was a lot of them. It got easier as I read on, because I was getting to know some of the vocabular and was able to fill in the blanks when I came across foreign words. So without the guide it can be a difficult read, unless you are fluent in Russian or Slavic slang, and Burgessian. As I got deeper in the book I realized why this work was so popular. I could see the artfulness in his writing, using controversial subject matter to get a specific point across. Taking the reader into a place that some of us forget about, a place of violence and madness where some think that it¿s okay. And how through disciplinary techniques some lose the freedom to choose and are forced to change. But with time, we all grow up and make the right decision to do so. The questional material in the book mixed with the underlining, but somewhat hidden message, it has, leaves my gladly sick that I have read it.
Sybil More than 1 year ago
From it's first publishing in 1962 to now, A Clockwork Orange has become one of the most infamous satirical novels to emerge from Twentieth Century literature. From it's violent context, moral ambiguity, and it's slang; the novel was bound to be misunderstood especially due to it's timely publication. The novel, in likes of Eugene Zamiatin's We and Orwell's 1984, sets a very dystopian look of the future. The novel's protagonist/antihero is Alex, the leader of a gang of four "droogies". At night the gang sets out doing a number of amoral activities that would make most eyes pop if it weren't for the crude satirical humor that Burgess peppers the text with. The book also contains quite a bit of sly commentary on public institutions and those that abide by and/or oppose it. The doctors supposedly "curing" Alex, Alex's parents, and etc. all seem to follow a fine line of orthodoxy without much contemplation. Much like Kafka, Burgess outlines the absurdity of hollow traditional values and there negative affects. The main message of the story mostly lies on Alex. In that although Alex actions reflect violence and sexual debauchery, he seems to be the only one to make a involved moral decision in his life. Not one based off religion, political associations, or money, but because he likes it. While any of his decision are hard to relate to, he remains to be the freest man in the story. Anthony Burgess may have enjoyed writing his other novels, but A Clockwork Orange is definitely his most effective and critically-acclaimed work. Also Another Note: The last chapter was omitted until 1986, long after the Kubrick film was released.
Equality_72521 More than 1 year ago
A great novel, filled with an unusual language based on russian slang (be ready to use your context clues) A clockwork orange begs the question if good is not a moral choice, then is it actually good, or just as bad as actually being evil? You take a dive into the mind of a young hoodlum, Alex who leads a gang of misbehaving droogs. Alex finds little in life he loves and destroys other peoples lives. A major theme in this book is music. Beethoven's 9th symphony is the actual structure of this book. read the chorus of the ninth before you read the book, it is very interesting. also, read the introduction, many people don't, but you will get a lot more out of the book. Also, the book is very different than the movie. overall, this book is a good read. lots of people find it disturbing, and at points it is, but stomach past it and look at the underlying message of freewill and moral choices.
CZurita More than 1 year ago
What an interesting experience it was to read this novel! When I first picked up A Clockwork Orange, I had already heard a few things about it. First, that the book contains graphic scenes and violence. And second, that the language in the novel is difficult to get used to. Both are true and both are crucial to the merit of the novel as a whole. With respect to the violence of the main character and his "droogs," I found meaning for these actions in the curiosity towards their motives that I subsequently developed. Why are the characters so incessant in committing acts of violence? Do they openly flout the moral codes of society or are they unaware that such a moral code exists? How has society come to be this way? These unanswered questions are what catapult you through the pages as you continue to listen to Alex, your "friend and humble narrator," continue with his story. As far as the language in concerned, do not allow yourself to be intimidated by the first page. Consider it a puzzle to be solved with the surrounding contexts and through you own perception. I must warn you of becoming frustrated with not knowing the meaning to all the slang terms spoken in the novel. Do NOT merely give up and go searching on the internet for the slang dictionary as you would not go searching for the answer key to a crossword puzzle after you encounter a question that you do not know. Instead, persevere so that ultimately the novel holds both meaning and pleasure in solving the puzzle. Reading this novel is like immersing yourself into a whole new world. Learn as you go and enjoy your discoveries as you finally uncover the underlying moral truths hidden in both the title, A Clockwork Orange, and the story itself. All in all, I wholeheartedly recommend this book to any reader that is up for the challenge.
Droog More than 1 year ago
This classical book, written by the recognized author Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange is a futuristic novel about violence and how people have the power to change. This novel is based on the protagonist Alex which lives in a futuristic and complex society where violence is widely present. Alex is the leader of a gang that consists of George, Pete and Dim. They lurk the night and commit violent acts such as stealing, robbing stores, hitting and harassing people. The people that live in the city consider them the evil and fear of the gloomy night. It all becomes more interesting as one day they plan to go and steal an old woman's house that supposedly had many valuable objects and jewelry. Alex goes in first and beats up this old woman rather bad and suddenly he hears the police sirens. He rushes through the door to find his friends ditched him and he is left alone and captured by the brute police force. At jail he finds out that the old lady he beat up died moments later and that he is forced to serve 14 years in jail. Alex fits right in jail and does not change a bit and when he has this big fight in his cell with a new prisoner and this prisoner dies is when it just gets more appealing. Alex is offered a new treatment where he would be released in about 1 week, without hesitation he takes this new treatment. This program consists of conditioning Alex to feel disgust whenever he is presented with violence so he is shown films of violence and given meds to make him feel sick. After all this, Alex is ready to go out to the world again but what will happen to him if he cant commit violence or even defend himself as he feels sick. They have taken choice from him and he is left alone to this complex society and the rest is for you to find out if you read the book. What I enjoyed when reading this novel where many things such as the language and the actual plot of the story. The language that Anthony uses throughout is impressive and makes you get more absorbed with the book. The language he uses is what he calls in the book the Nadsat Slang, which consists of over 100 words that he uses which are invented and has a translation. One example is Droogs - Friends and Litso - Face. This slang makes you feel part of this society as if you were taken to another place. Another thing I enjoyed greatly was the deepening plot that sucks you into reading and reading continuously. Every chapter ends with finales that force you to keep reading to find out what will happen. In the other hand, I also enjoyed the setting of the book that makes you think of a different type of society where it is filled with violence and depression and it helps you get into the book. Finally, I hope that you get to read this illustrious novel and get to appreciate it just as much as I did and so you can find out what happened to poor Alex.
tiffanyfh More than 1 year ago
I might not know much about literature, or Anthony's philosophical views. But I do know that I'm a teenager who encounters all this so called "drama" and "backstabbing". My life is, of course, not as brutal as Alex's, but if you think about it, most kids my age posses that kind of...Hostility, towards life and people surrounding them. I'm only 15 years old, and all I hear is; My, did you hear about those kids who raped and murdered that woman?! Where's justice? Fairness?! For the love of God! What's wrong with these kids?!? I hear this all the time, adults stop and stare at me in horror, thinking I want to skin them or something, ridiculous! Two months ago, two of my friends plotted, and almost succeeded in killing one of their parents, you might have heard it in the news, Eric Stone. It makes me sick knowing that I sat next to them in class. I knew their motives. Silly! No one ever believed they would do such a thing. I know this is supposed to be a review for the book, but guess we could call this "a second point of view", it's scary how close to reality Anthony came. I mean, I do wear the highest of fashions amongst my droogs, and luckily, I'm no one of the many psychotic teenagers out there, but I can guarantee you, I'm one of their best friends. Either way, amazing book. Beautiful slang. As real as it gets.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The entire book was stunning. All the literary elements flow to create a clear, timeless picture of a chaotic future. It is parable of free will that will have you thinking, questioning, and empathizing with it's protagnist (Alex).
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Seattlite on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What happens if you take away a person's ability to choose for themselves between what is "bad" and what is "good"--imposing upon them the ability to do "good" only? Does this person lose what makes them human, instead becoming a machine of sorts? This idea is explored by Burgess in his brilliant philosophical novel. The movie, while classic, misses the point of the book... it doesn't quite measure up, despite its use of much of the original dialogue. The language of the book is a bit disorienting at first, but it becomes obvious enough if you read on. This is easy to do because the story is quite compelling--I found it difficult to put down. The main character , Alex, is both loathesome and likeable--an interesting combination. You sympathize with him despite the joy he takes in doing horrible things. The 21st chapter changes the story quite a bit, and it's unfortunate that it was left out of both the original American publishing and the movie. Without it, you are left with a villian--totally unapologetic and incapable of change.
sherryjones on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of the best books every written, IMHO
Jthierer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is not a book that can be read while distracted, but it rewards the dedicated reader. The invented slang Burgess uses requires some getting used to, but by the end of the book I found myself knowing the dialect as well as my own and getting past it to the deeper story about what it means to be "good" and the role of choice in morality. Definitely be sure to find a copy with the 21st chapter included.
ABookVacation on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have been putting this book off for over a year... my students wanted me to read it, but I once was browsing through the TV channels and caught a little of the movie, and it was so strange and awkward, not to mention freaky, that I never had any desire to read the book of finish the movie. I finally picked up the book yesterday. I read the first few pages and was ready to throw it against the wall--the slang used was incomprehensible! But, I thought about my students and decided to give it a go--if they could do it, I'd better be able to do it too. I kept reading, and sooner, rather than later, I started to understand the crazy language and was able to fill in real words for the gibberish, and suddenly the novel began to make sense and was VERY intersting. So, my word to all you thinking about reading this: give it a try. You will eventually figure out the language, and even though you are frustraed at first, keep plugging away. It is very rewarding when you figure it out. The story line was actually pretty cool as well--it is actually dealing with the governments attempts to rehabilitate criminals, and the extremes they take (I believe this book is set in the future?), and the question of whether it is right. I REALLY really liked it.
Spiceca on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Many who are familiar with the movie are probably not as familiar with the fact that the movie version was not exactly accurate - specifically in the ending. I think I can understand the reasons behind the last chapter being initially left out (in the American version) after reading it. This book was a challenge to read due to the nosdat language used throughout. The idea of using the nosdat language did indeed keep this classic from becoming dated- the language is old yet futuristic in a bizarre contradictory way. Once you get familiar enough with the language its quite a hearty take on the concept of having a choice to do right or wrong and whether it is acceptable to change those who don't choose a "moral" path. It also addresses the concept of morality too- are those that enforce change more moral or less moral than those who are committing crimes? Or is this just one really big mess of a gray area? As the reader you must debate and decide these concepts for yourself. As for me it was a read horroshow read and when I have more time I will focus my glassies for a re-read.
rach2340 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A Clockwork Orange. An amazing, disturbing, fantastic novel! Anthony Brugess is a literary genius. I can't stress enough how much better the classic dystopias are compared to the newer, modern dystopias. A Clockwork Orange had my mind churning and wanting more. When other reviews say it's a thought provoking novel, they are right. It makes you think about the good of society vs free will. Would you rather a society force you to behave or have a choice? The whole plot of the novel is centered around a boy named Alex. He is the leader of his "droogs" , which are basically his gang membres. They love violence. In several scenes at the beginning, they leave some innocent citizen bloody on the side of the street with their money gone and their possessions destroyed. The city is know for its violent nights. When Alex accidentally kills one of their victims, he is sentenced to 14 years in prison. From there, he is chosen for a program that is experimenting on, for loss of words, hypnosis. It's not really hypnosis, but it's training Alex's body to detest violence by emitting a sickening feeling every time he has the urge to commit a crime. He is forced to be nice and polite. The book is divided into 3 parts. The first part was hard to get through at first because of the language and the violence. I didn't know where it was going to, but as it turns out the violent acts they commit are important to part 3. And just a little warning, they use slang words that make the book a little hard to understand at first, but you get use to it. You start to understand what they are saying after a few chapters. All in all, it was a good read. I had me thinking about free will, and what governments might try to do in the future. Would a real government actually try something like this? 4/5 stars for A Clockwork Orange!
uh8myzen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is such a powerful and controversial book. Anthony Burgess crafts an evil and malicious soul and makes them likable to the point that the reader is able to empathize with the character's plight. This is a masterful turn on the part of the author and integral to the major theme of the book, free will.Should Burgess have failed to make a reprehensible character likable, his entire vision would have fallen in on itself. Very few authors could pull this off, but Anthony Burgess does and then some. (Stanley Kubrick also does this masterfully in the movie) In my mind, that is what makes this book one of the finest examples of Twentieth Century literature.
crazy4reading on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I don't know where to begin in writing a review for A Clockwork Orange. I have heard of this book before and of the movie. I have not seen the movie and didn't read anything about the book prior to deciding to read the book.The language in the book makes it very difficult to read A Clockwork Orange at first. The language is made up teenage slang. The story takes place in a world of poverty, violence and in the near future. Once I got past the language and started to understand the usage the book started to make sense.Alex is the main character of A Clockwork Orange. He is the somewhat leader of a group of teenage thugs and yet he is the youngest. The story is written in 3 parts. The first part is where you really get to know Alex and what he does that gets him into trouble. Part two continues with him being in prisoned for his crimes. Part three wraps up the whole story.I would consider A Clockwork Orange a book of a coming of age type. All teenagers go through a period of rebellion and some grow and change and others don't change as much or as fast. This book is the one written in America but with 3 parts and 7 chapters in each part. The original work written in America was missing the last chapter and the movie is based on that same book. I was given this information right up front in this book. While reading the book I had decided to really think about having the book end on 20 chapters instead of 21 chapters and I have to say I am glad to have read the one with 21 chapters.
atomheart on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book destroys the movie... The story is obviously a classic, and very interesting. But the most profound aspect of the book is how he develops a new language to fill a good chunk of the dialogue. At first, its a bit overwhelming and you wonder if you're gonna get through it all. But by the second or third chapter, you've miraculously picked up the lingo, even though you probably couldn't define each word... Cool stuff.