Saturday, 19 November 2011

53 - A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess.

Alex is 15 and likes nothing better than a bit of ultra-violence mixed up with some horrorshow classical music and a little bit of moloko with something added to get him in the mood. The world is his oyster and he spends each night leading his pack of Malchicks like he owns the world. But then the world catches up with him and he ends up facing up to his crimes in a way that he could never have imagined.

I read this book (which is part of Penguins Modern Classics) with an open mind. I have never seen the movie and didn't have a clue what it was about, although I had, of course, heard of the book. This won't be everybody's cup of tea. Yes it is violent and those of a certain disposition or mindset wouldn't like it but I liked everything about it. I liked the fact that it is very unique and imaginative. I also didn't mind the violence, for me it made the book even more compelling. A Clockwork Orange is part horror/part sci-fi/part something else and in parts it is very funny ( although there is nothing funny about the acts of violence that make up large chunks of the book.)
But the great thing is that it makes you think about issues like crime and punishment and it asks the biq question; what do we do about violent individuals? Does rehabilitation work ? Can we ( should we) try to change people and what happens when that goes to far ? Are people born with a predisposition to violence where other people are born to be violently sick at the idea of violence ? Or does society work on a sliding scale basis ?
I have never read a book like this in my life and one of the things I loved about it is that the main character and his droogs have their own unique slang vocabulary. When I read the first page I didn't understand it at all and wondered what the heck I had let myself in for ! But as you progress through this short book the language does start to make sense, especially if you go along to the online Urban Dictionary like I did ! The Nadsat slang actually makes 'A clockwork Orange' a much stronger and more enjoyable read.
I would also recommend anyone who hasn't read the book to save the lengthy introducion by Blake Morrison until you have read the last page( like I thankfully did), I suspected it would contain spoilers and it does. Reading this introduction adds to the interest of the novel as you learn a bit more about the author and the subsequent film by Stanley Kubrick and all the other stuff that makes 'A Clockwork Orange' a much talked about work of modern art.

This was, overall, an amazing and very perculiar read, it didn't engage me emotionally like some books but it does I think deserve a 10/10.

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