A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
Rating: ** stars out of five stars.
I knew that this book would be disturbing but I didn’t realize how much certain scenes would bother me. I understand that the prevalence of assault and rape in the story is supposed to enhance the climax of the plot, but at times the violence seemed gratuitous. Especially the one scene where two minors were involved…I won’t give it away. I’ve read multiple reviews of A Clockwork Orange online, and many readers stated that they felt bad for the protagonist. I don’t know how people can feel that after all that this character did in the first third of the book. While I do not agree with the methods of the government and police, I had a hard time working up any empathy for the kid. The other thing I didn’t like was the ending. Originally, the ending of the novel was cut by the publisher, but my edition had the ending still intact. I could see why the publishers wanted to cut this ending. It seemed forced, unrealistic, and unnecessary.
A Clockwork Orange does have some redeeming qualities. The slang used by the protagonist and his friends is known as Nadsat. It’s a combination of Russian, gypsy talk, and english slang. I thought I would have trouble reading it because most of this novel includes Nadsat words, but it wasn’t difficult at all. Most words you could figure out by the context alone, and some words were self-explanatory. The way Burgess crafted the language was just pure genius.
I read this right after finishing John Steinbeck’s classic East of Eden, so it was definitely a sharp difference as far as style and genre go. However, there were similarities in theme: good vs. evil, free will, and the importance of choices. A Clockwork Orange definitely had a more fatalistic brutal way of portraying these themes, whereas Steinbeck was more delicate, yet powerful.