A Clockwork Orange
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This article is about the novel. For the film, see A Clockwork Orange (film). For other uses, see A Clockwork Orange (disambiguation).
|A Clockwork Orange|
Dust jacket from the first edition
|Genre||Science-fiction, Novella, Satire,Dystopian fiction|
|Published||1962 (William Heinemann, UK)|
|Media type||Print (hardback & paperback) & audio book (cassette, CD)|
|Pages||192 pages (hardback edition) &|
176 pages (paperback edition)
A Clockwork Orange is a dystopian novellaby Anthony Burgess published in 1962. Set in a not-so-distant future English society that has a culture of extreme youth violence, the novel's teenage protagonist, Alex, narrates his violent exploits and his experiences with state authorities intent on reforming him. When the state undertakes to reform Alex—to "redeem" him—the novel asks, "At what cost?". The book is partially written in a Russian-influenced argot called "Nadsat". According to Burgess it was a jeu d'esprit written in just three weeks.
In 2005, A Clockwork Orange was included onTime magazine's list of the 100 best English-language novels written since 1923, and it was named by Modern Library and its readers as one of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. The original manuscript of the book is located at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada since that institution purchased the documents in 1971.
1 Plot summary
1.1 Part 1: Alex's world
1.2 Part 2: The Ludovico Technique
1.3 Part 3: After prison
2 Omission of the final chapter
4.3 Point of view
4.4 Use of slang
4.5 Banning and censorship history in the US
4.6 Writer's dismissal
5 Awards and nominations and rankings
7 Release details
8 See also
10 Further reading
11 External links
Part 1: Alex's world
Alex, a teenager living in near-future dystopian England, leads his gang on a night of opportunistic, random "ultra-violence". Alex's friends ("droogs" in the novel's Anglo-Russianslang, 'Nadsat') are: Dim, a slow-witted bruiser who is the gang's muscle; Georgie, an ambitious second-in-command; and Pete, who mostly plays along as the droogs indulge their taste for ultra-violence. Characterized as a sociopath and a hardened juvenile delinquent, Alex is also intelligent and quick-witted, with sophisticated taste in music, being particularly fond of Beethoven, referred to as "Lovely Ludwig Van".
The novel begins with the droogs sitting in their favorite hangout (the Korova Milk Bar), drinking "milk-plus", a drink consisting of milk, prodded with the customer's choice of certain drugs, including "vellocet", "synthemesc", or "drencrom" (which is what Alex and his droogs were drinking, according to Alex's own first-person narration). This drug, referred to as "knives", would "sharpen you up", as it did for Alex, in preparation of the night's mayhem. They assault a scholar walking home from the public library, rob a store, leaving the owner and his wife bloodied and unconscious, stomp a panhandling derelict, then scuffle with a rival gang. Joyriding through the countryside in a stolen car, they break into an isolated cottage and maul the young couple living there, beating the husband and raping his wife. In a metafictional touch, the husband is a writer working on a manuscript called "A Clockwork Orange," and Alex contemptuously reads out a paragraph that states the novel's main theme before shredding the manuscript. Back at the milk bar, Alex punishes Dim for some crude behaviour, and strains within the gang become apparent. At home in his dreary flat, Alex plays classical music at top volume while fantasizing about more orgiastic violence.
Alex skips school the next day. Following an unexpected visit from P. R. Deltoid, his "post-corrective advisor," Alex meets a pair of ten-year-old girls and takes them back to his parents' flat, where he serves them scotch and soda, injects himself with hard drugs, and then rapes them. That evening, Alex finds his droogs in a mutinous mood. Georgie challenges Alex for leadership of the gang, demanding that they pull a "man-sized" job. Alex quells the rebellion by slashing Dim's hand and fighting with Georgie, then in a show of generosity takes them to a bar, where Alex insists on following through on Georgie's idea to burgle the home of a wealthy old woman. The break-in starts as farce and ends in tragic pathos, as Alex's attack kills the elderly woman. His escape is blocked by an attack by Dim, as payback for the earlier fight, leaving Alex incapacitated on the front step when the police arrive.
Part 2: The Ludovico Technique
Sentenced to prison for murder, Alex gets a job at the Wing chapel playing religious music on the stereo before and after services as well as during the singing of hymns. The prison chaplain mistakes Alex's Bible studies for stirrings of faith (Alex is actually reading Scripture for the violent passages). After Alex's fellow cellmates blame him for beating a troublesome cellmate to death, he agrees to undergo an experimental behaviour-modification treatment called the Ludovico Technique. The technique is a form of aversion therapy in which Alex receives an injection that makes him feel sick while watching graphically violent films, eventually conditioning him to suffer crippling bouts of nausea at the mere thought of violence. As an unintended consequence, the soundtrack to one of the films —Beethoven's Ninth Symphony — renders Alex unable to listen to his beloved classical music.
The effectiveness of the technique is demonstrated to a group of VIPs, who watch as Alex collapses before a walloping bully, and abases himself before a scantily-clad young woman whose presence has aroused his predatory sexual inclinations. Although the prison chaplain accuses the state of stripping Alex of free will, the government officials on the scene are pleased with the results and Alex is released into society early as a result.
Part 3: After prison
Since his parents are now renting his room to a lodger, Alex wanders the streets homeless. He enters a public library where he hopes to learn a painless way to commit suicide. There, he accidentally encounters the old scholar he assaulted earlier in the book, who, keen on revenge, beats Alex with the help of his friends. The policemen who come to Alex's rescue turn out to be none other than Dim and former gang rival Billyboy. The two policemen take Alex outside of town and beat him up. Dazed and bloodied, Alex collapses at the door of an isolated cottage, realizing too late that it is the house he and his droogs invaded in the first part of the story. Because the gang wore masks during the assault, the writer does not recognize Alex. The writer, whose name is revealed as F. Alexander, shelters Alex and questions him about the conditioning. During this sequence, it is revealed that Mrs. Alexander died of injuries inflicted during the gang-rape, while her husband has decided to continue living "where her fragrant memory persists" despite the horrid memories. Alex reveals in his description that he has been conditioned to feel intolerable deathly nausea on hearing certain classical music. Alexander, a critic of the government, intends to use Alex's therapy as a symbol of state brutality and thereby prevent the incumbent government from being re-elected, but a careless Alex soon inadvertently reveals that he was the ringleader during the night two years ago. Frightened for his own safety, Alex blurts out a confession to the writer's radical associates after they remove him from F. Alexander's home. Instead of protecting him, however, they imprison Alex in a dreary flat not far from his parents' residence. They pretend to leave, and then while he is sleeping in a locked bedroom subject him to a relentless barrage of classical music, prompting him to attemptsuicide by leaping from a high window.
Alex wakes up in a hospital, where he is courted by government officials anxious to counter the bad publicity created by his suicide attempt. With Alexander placed in a mental institution, Alex is offered a well-paying job if he agrees to side with the government. As photographers snap pictures, Alex daydreams of orgiastic violence and reflects upon the news that his Ludovico conditioning has been reversed as part of his recovery: "I was cured, all right".
In the final chapter, Alex finds himself half-heartedly preparing for yet another night of crime with a new trio of droogs. After a chance encounter with Pete, who has reformed and married, Alex finds himself taking less and less pleasure in acts of senseless violence. He begins contemplating giving up crime himself to become a productive member of society and start a family of his own, while reflecting on the notion that his own children will be just as destructive—if not more so—than he himself.
Omission of the final chapter
The book has three parts, each with seven chapters. Burgess has stated that the total of 21 chapters was an intentional nod to the age of 21 being recognised as a milestone in human maturation. The 21st chapter was omitted from the editions published in the United States prior to 1986. In the introduction to the updated American text (these newer editions include the missing 21st chapter), Burgess explains that when he first brought the book to an American publisher, he was told that U.S. audiences would never go for the final chapter, in which Alex sees the error of his ways, decides he has lost all energy for and thrill from violence and resolves to turn his life around (a slow-ripening but classic moment of metanoia—the moment at which one's protagonist realises that everything he thought he knew was wrong).
At the American publisher's insistence, Burgess allowed their editors to cut the redeeming final chapter from the U.S. version, so that the tale would end on a darker note, with Alex succumbing to his violent, reckless nature—an ending which the publisher insisted would be 'more realistic' and appealing to a U.S. audience. The film adaptation, directed byStanley Kubrick, is based on the American edition of the book (which Burgess considered to be "badly flawed"). Kubrick called Chapter 21 "an extra chapter" and claimed that he had not read the original version until he had virtually finished the screenplay, and that he had never given serious consideration to using it. In Kubrick's opinion, the final chapter was unconvincing and inconsistent with the book.
Alex: The novel's anti-hero and leader among his droogs. He often refers to himself as "Your Humble Narrator". (Having seduced two girls in his bedroom, Alex refers to himself as "Alexander the Large" while ravishing them; this was later the basis for Alex's claimed surname DeLarge in the 1971 film.)
George or Georgie: Effectively Alex's greedy second-in-command. Georgie attempts to undermine Alex's status as leader of the gang. He is later killed during a botched robbery, while Alex is in prison.
Pete: The most rational and least violent member of the gang. He is the only one who doesn't take particular sides when the droogs fight among themselves. He later meets and marries a girl, renouncing his old ways and even losing his former (Nadsat) speech patterns. A chance encounter with Pete in the final chapter influences Alex to realize that he grows bored with violence and recognises that human energy is better expended on creation than destruction.
Dim: An idiotic and thoroughly gormless member of the gang, persistently condescended to by Alex, but respected to some extent by his droogs for his formidable fighting abilities, his weapon of choice being a length of bike chain. He later becomes apolice officer, exacting his revenge on Alex for the abuse he once suffered under his command.
P. R. Deltoid: A criminal rehabilitation social worker assigned the task of keeping Alex on the straight and narrow. He seemingly has no clue about dealing with young people, and is devoid of empathy or understanding for his troublesome charge. Indeed, when Alex is arrested for murdering an old woman, and then ferociously beaten by several police officers, Deltoid simply spits on him.
The prison chaplain: The character who first questions whether it's moral to turn a violent person into a behavioural automaton who can make no choice in such matters. This is the only character who is truly concerned about Alex's welfare; he is not taken seriously by Alex, though. (He is nicknamed by Alex "prison charlie" or "chaplin", possibly an allusion to Charlie Chaplin.)
Billyboy: A rival of Alex's. Early on in the story, Alex and his droogs battle Billyboy and his droogs, which ends abruptly when the police arrive. Later, after Alex is released from prison, Billyboy (along with Dim, who like Billyboy has become a police officer) rescue Alex from a mob, then subsequently beat him, in a location out of town.
The prison governor: The man who decides to let Alex "choose" to be the first reformed by the Ludovico technique.
The Minister of the Interior, or the Inferior, as Alex refers to him. The government high-official who is determined that Ludovico's technique will be used to cut recidivism.
Dr. Branom: Brodsky's colleague and co-developer of the Ludovico technique. He appears friendly and almost paternal towards Alex at first, before forcing him into the theatre and what Alex calls the "chair of torture".
Dr. Brodsky: The scientist and co-developer of the "Ludovico technique". He seems much more passive than Branom, and says considerably less.
F. Alexander: An author who was in the process of typing his magnum opus A Clockwork Orange, when Alex and his droogs broke into his house, beat him, tore up his work and then brutally gang-raped his wife, which caused her subsequent death. He is left deeply scarred by these events, and when he encounters Alex two years later he uses him as a guinea pig in a sadistic experiment intended to prove the Ludovico technique unsound.
Cat Woman: An indirectly named woman who blocks Alex's gang's entrance scheme, and threatens to shoot Alex and set her cats on him if he doesn't leave. After Alex breaks into her house, she fights with him, ordering her cats to join the melee, but reprimands Alex for fighting them off. She sustains a fatal blow to the head during the scuffle.
A Clockwork Orange was written in Hove, then a senescent seaside town. Burgess had arrived back in Britain after his stint abroad to see that much had changed. A youth culture had grown, including coffee bars, pop music and teenage gangs. England was gripped by fears over juvenile delinquency. Burgess claimed that the novel's inspiration was his first wife Lynne's beating by a gang of drunk American servicemen stationed in England during World War II. She subsequently miscarried. In its investigation of free will, the book's target is ostensibly the concept of behaviourism, pioneered by such figures as B. F. Skinner.
Burgess later stated that he wrote the book in three weeks.
Burgess gave three possible origins for the title:
He had overheard the phrase "as queer as a clockwork orange" in a London pub in 1945 and assumed it was a Cockney expression. In Clockwork Marmalade, an essay published in the Listener in 1972, he said that he had heard the phrase several times since that occasion. He also explained the title in response to a question from William Everson on the television programme, Camera Three in 1972, "Well, the title has a very different meaning but only to a particular generation of London Cockneys. It's a phrase which I heard many years ago and so fell in love with, I wanted to use it, the title of the book. But the phrase itself I did not make up. The phrase "as queer as a clockwork orange" is good old East London slang and it didn't seem to me necessary to explain it. Now, obviously, I have to give it an extra meaning. I've implied an extra dimension. I've implied the junction of the organic, the lively, the sweet – in other words, life, the orange – and the mechanical, the cold, the disciplined. I've brought them together in this kind of oxymoron, this sour-sweet word." However, no other record of the expression being used before 1962 has ever appeared. Kingsley Amisnotes in his Memoirs (1991) that no trace of it appears in Eric Partridge's Dictionary of Historical Slang.
His second explanation was that it was a pun on the Malay word orang, meaning "man." The novel contains no other Malay words or links.
In a prefatory note to A Clockwork Orange: A Play with Music, he wrote that the title was a metaphor for "...an organic entity, full of juice and sweetness and agreeable odour, being turned into a mechanism."
In his essay, "Clockwork Oranges," Burgess asserts that "this title would be appropriate for a story about the application of Pavlovian or mechanical laws to an organism which, like a fruit, was capable of colour and sweetness." This title alludes to the protagonist's positively conditioned responses to feelings of evil which prevent the exercise of his free will. To induce this conditioning, the protagonist is subjected to a technique in which violent scenes displayed on screen, which he is forced to watch, are systematically paired with negative stimulation in the form of nausea and "feelings of terror" caused by anemetic medicine administered just before the presentation of the films.
Point of view
A Clockwork Orange is written using a narrative first-person singular perspective of a seemingly biased and unreliable narrator. The protagonist, Alex, never justifies his actions in the narration, giving a sense that he is somewhat sincere; a narrator who, as unlikeable as he may attempt to seem, evokes pity from the reader by telling of his unending suffering, and later through his realisation that the cycle will never end. Alex's perspective is effective in that the way that he describes events is easy to relate to, even if the situations themselves are not.
Use of slang
Main article: Nadsat
The book, narrated by Alex, contains many words in a slang argot which Burgess invented for the book, called Nadsat. It is a mix of modified Slavic words, rhyming slang, derived Russian (like baboochka), and words invented by Burgess himself. For instance, these terms have the following meanings in Nadsat: droog = friend; korova = cow; gulliver('golova') = head; malchick or malchickiwick = boy; soomka = sack or bag; Bog = God;khorosho ('horrorshow') = good; prestoopnick = criminal; rooka ('rooker') = hand; cal = crap; veck ('chelloveck') = man or guy; litso = face; malenky = little; and so on. ComparePolari.
One of Alex's doctors explains the language to a colleague as "odd bits of old rhyming slang; a bit of gypsy talk, too. But most of the roots are Slav propaganda. Subliminalpenetration." Some words are not derived from anything, but merely easy to guess, e.g. 'in-out, in-out' or 'the old in-out' means sexual intercourse. Cutter, however, means 'money,' because 'cutter' rhymes with 'bread-and-butter'; this is rhyming slang, which is intended to be impenetrable to outsiders (especially eavesdropping policemen). Additionally, slang like Appypolly loggy (Apology) seems to derive from school boy slang. This reflects Alex's age of 15.
In the first edition of the book, no key was provided, and the reader was left to interpret the meaning from the context. In his appendix to the restored edition, Burgess explained that the slang would keep the book from seeming dated, and served to muffle "the raw response of pornography" from the acts of violence. Furthermore, in a novel where a form ofbrainwashing plays a role, the narrative itself brainwashes the reader into understanding Nadsat. The fact that the reader is forced to buy a Russian dictionary, also forms part of the brainwashing.
The term "ultraviolence," referring to excessive and/or unjustified violence, was coined by Burgess in the book, which includes the phrase "do the ultra-violent." The term's association with aesthetic violence has led to its use in the media.
Banning and censorship history in the US
In 1976, A Clockwork Orange was removed from an Aurora, Colorado high school because of "objectionable language". A year later in 1977 it was removed from high school classrooms in Westport, Massachusetts over similar concerns with "objectionable" language. In 1982, it was removed from two Anniston, Alabama libraries, later to be reinstated on a restricted basis. Also, in 1973 a bookseller was arrested for selling the novel. Charges were later dropped. However, each of these instances came after the release of Stanley Kubrick's popular 1971 film adaptation of A Clockwork Orange, itself the subject of much controversy.
Burgess in 1986
In 1985, Burgess published Flame into Being: The Life and Work of D. H. Lawrence, and while discussing Lady Chatterley's Lover in his biography, Burgess compared that novel's notoriety with A Clockwork Orange: "We all suffer from the popular desire to make the known notorious. The book I am best known for, or only known for, is a novel I am prepared to repudiate: written a quarter of a century ago, ajeu d'esprit knocked off for money in three weeks, it became known as the raw material for a film which seemed to glorify sex and violence. The film made it easy for readers of the book to misunderstand what it was about, and the misunderstanding will pursue me until I die. I should not have written the book because of this danger of misinterpretation, and the same may be said of Lawrence and Lady Chatterley's Lover." Burgess also dismissed A Clockwork Orange as "too didactic to be artistic".
Awards and nominations and rankings
1983 – Prometheus Award (Preliminary Nominee)
1999 – Prometheus Award (Nomination)
2002 – Prometheus Award (Nomination)
2003 – Prometheus Award (Nomination)
2006 – Prometheus Award (Nomination)
2008 – Prometheus Award (Hall of Fame Award)
The novel was chosen by Time magazine as one of the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to 2005.
Stanley Kubrick film version'stheatrical release poster by Bill Gold
The best known adaptation of the novel to other forms is the 1971 film A Clockwork Orange by Stanley Kubrick, starring Malcolm McDowell as Alex.
A 1965 film by Andy Warhol entitled Vinyl  was an adaptation of Burgess' novel.
After Kubrick's film was released, Burgess wrote a stage play titled A Clockwork Orange. In it, Dr. Branom defects from the psychiatric clinic when he grasps that the aversion therapy has destroyed Alex's ability to enjoy music. The play restores the novel's original ending.
In 1988, a German adaptation of A Clockwork Orange at the intimate theatre of Bad Godesberg featured a musical score by the German punk rock band Die Toten Hosenwhich, combined with orchestral clips of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and "other dirty melodies" (so stated by the subtitle), was released on the album Ein kleines bisschen Horrorschau. The track Hier kommt Alex became one of the band's signature songs.
Vanessa Claire Smith, Sterling Wolfe, Michael Holmes, and Ricky Coates in Brad Mays' multi-media stage production ofA Clockwork Orange, 2003, Los Angeles. (photo: Peter Zuehlke)
Vanessa Claire Smith in Brad Mays' multi-media stage production of A Clockwork Orange, 2003, Los Angeles. (photo: Peter Zuehlke)
In February 1990, another musical version was produced at the Barbican Theatre in London by the Royal Shakespeare Company. Titled A Clockwork Orange: 2004, it received mostly negative reviews, with John Peter of The Sunday Times of London calling it "only an intellectualRocky Horror Show," and John Gross of The Sunday Telegraph calling it "a clockwork lemon." Even Burgess himself, who wrote the script based on his novel, was disappointed. According to The Evening Standard, he called the score, written by Bono and The Edge of the rock group U2, "neo-wallpaper." Burgess had originally worked alongside the director of the production, Ron Daniels, and envisioned a musical score that was entirely classical. Unhappy with the decision to abandon that score, he heavily criticised the band's experimental mix of hip hop,liturgical and gothic music. Lise Hand of The Irish Independent reported The Edge as saying that Burgess' original conception was "a score written by a novelist rather than a songwriter." Calling it "meaningless glitz," Jane Edwardes of 20/20 Magazine said that watching this production was "like being invited to an expensive French Restaurant - and being served with a Big Mac."
In 1994, Chicago's Steppenwolf Theater put on a production of A Clockwork Orange directed by Terry Kinney. The American premiere of novelist Anthony Burgess' own adaptation of his A Clockwork Orangestarred K. Todd Freeman as Alex. In 2001, UNI Theatre (Mississauga, Ontario) presented the Canadian premiere of the play under the direction of Terry Costa.
In 2002, Godlight Theatre Company presented the New York Premiere adaptation of A Clockwork Orange at Manhattan Theatre Source. The production went on to play at the SoHo Playhouse (2002), Ensemble Studio Theatre (2004), 59E59 Theaters (2005) and theEdinburgh Festival Fringe (2005). While at Edinburgh, the production received rave reviews from the press while playing to sold-out audiences. The production was directed by Godlight's Artistic Director, Joe Tantalo.
In 2003, Los Angeles director Brad Mays and the ARK Theatre Company staged amulti-media adaptation of A Clockwork Orange, which was named "Pick Of The Week" by the LA Weekly and nominated for three of the 2004 LA Weekly Theater Awards: Direction, Revival Production (of a 20th-century work), and Leading Female Performance. Vanessa Claire Smith won Best Actress for her gender-bending portrayal of Alex, the music-loving teenage sociopath. This production utilised three separate video streams outputted to seven onstage video monitors - six 19-inch and one 40-inch. In order to preserve the first-person narrative of the book, a pre-recorded video stream of Alex, "your humble narrator," was projected onto the 40-inch monitor, thereby freeing the onstage character during passages which would have been awkward or impossible to sustain in the breaking of the fourth wall.
David Bowie referenced the book/film in various songs in his early 1970s oeuvre: "Suffragette City" mentions "droogie" in its lyrics, which is a reference to a term used in the book. Live appearances would include tracks from the soundtrack album, usually opening with Beethoven's Ninth Symphony segment "Ode To Joy" (as can be heard on live albums "Santa Monica '72" and the "Ziggy Stardust: The Motion Picture" soundtrack CD & DVD).
The English band Heaven 17 took their name from the fictional band at the 4th spot in the hit parade named by one of the girls in the scene inside the Chelsea Drugstore.
Korova was the name of a music label for which Echo and the Bunnymen and the Sound recorded during the 80's.
The music video for "The Universal", a single by English alternative rock band Blur is a tribute to the book/film, featuring the band members dressed up in costumes similar to those of Alex and the droogs.
The song "Sex and Violence" by American thrash metal band Carnivore (band) is aboutA Clockwork Orange.
The Brazilian heavy metal group Sepultura used the plot of A Clockwork Orange for their concept album A-Lex. The name of the album is a pun on the main character's name; in Latin, the expression a-lex means "without law."
Argentinian punk rock band Los Violadores wrote the song "1,2,Ultraviolento" inspired by the story.
German punk rock band Die Toten Hosen wrote an album based on A Clockwork Orange, titled Ein kleines bisschen Horrorschau or "A Tiny Bit of Horrorshow."
Metal band Slipknot's Chris Fehn and deceased Paul Gray's masks refer to the masks in the movie. Chris Fehn also stated that the self-titled album Slipknot is the unwritten soundtrack to the book. The songs on the album are said to reflect what is going on in Alex's head.
American industrial rock band The Electric Hellfire Club referenced the book, and movie in many of their songs, including the track "Ultraviolence".
English punk rock band the Adicts became known for their "droog" image inspired by Kubrick's movie. Their third studio album was also entitled smart alex, referring to the book's protagonist.
Rapper Cage previously rapped under the name of Alex, after the books protagonist, and he has since released the song Agent Orange which uses the title theme from the 1971 film as the beat
Arjen Anthony Lucassen's project band Star One wrote a song, the title track off the 2010 album Victims of the Modern Age, based on the novel/movie.
Rihanna sported "A Clockwork Orange"-inspired look in her music video, "You da One".
Rob Zombie's song "Never Gonna Stop (The Red Red Kroovy)" from the album "The Sinister Urge" has numerous references to the book, including a reference to the Durango 95, and "horrorshow". The video follows the theme and is a direct homage to the movie.
In her unreleased song "Hundred Dollar Bill," Lana Del Rey references the book: "Cause I love your ultra-violent swing, I like it when you treat me mean." In 2013, Lana Del Rey also announced that her new album would be titled "Ultraviolence."