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A Clockwork Orange
by Anthony Burgess

192 pages Reissue edition (June 1995)
W.W. Norton & Company; ISBN: 0393312836


Novel by Anthony Burgess, published in 1962. Set in a dismal dystopia, it is the first-person account of a juvenile delinquent who undergoes state-sponsored psychological rehabilitation for his aberrant behavior. The novel satirizes extreme political systems that are based on opposing models of the perfectibility or incorrigibility of humanity. Written in a futuristic slang vocabulary invented by Burgess, in part by adaptation of Russian words, it was his most original and best-known work. Alex, the protagonist, has a passion for classical music and is a member of a vicious teenage gang that commits random acts of brutality. Captured and imprisoned, he is transformed through behavioral conditioning into a model citizen, but his taming also leaves him defenseless. He ultimately reverts to his former behavior. The final chapter of the original British edition, in which Alex renounces his amoral past, was removed when the novel was first published in the United States.

articles and reviews
March 19, 1963

Books of The Times

"A Clockwork Orange” is a brilliant novel. In young Alex, Anthony Burgess has created the most interesting delinquent since Pinky in Graham Green’s “Brighton Rock.” Alex is vicious, depraved, anarchic, a pure little monster, and the purity of his dedication to evil keeps lighting his deeds like some grotesque halo.

Alex’s choice of evil is total and enthusiastic; his aimlessness is electric, like a shark switching around to the nearest scent; his intelligence is sharply practical and of a high order. The novel is about this individual versus the State, which removes his capacity for choice, turning him into a mass of conditioned reflexes, all wholesome and good. It is a weird little morality tale, told in a taut, telescoped style that gives the effect of a continuous close-up. The narrator is Alex himself. [read more]

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