Revolving around the ultra-violent experiences of the main protagonist, Alex, a fifteen year old ‘droog’, narrates his violent exploits and his experiences with state authorities intent on reforming him. A dystopian novel that portrays the nightmare vision of the future, where an outbreak of criminals take over the dark night; a cult classic that frighteningly tells the tale about good and evil, and the philosophical undertone of human freedom.
“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.” – Anthony Burgess
The world is a dark place, something we’ve all learned to adapt to over the years. Some of us lock that part away, never to have the light yearn over it again, taming this beast, forced to focus on whatever goodness we still have in this world. Whatever this darkness is, sometimes the locks loosen, and sometimes the beast takes over us. There is a beast luring within these pages, the beast is called Alex. Alex enjoys blood, filth, violence, rape and Beethoven. Alex is a fifteen year old boy. The way this beast talks is through the medium of teenage slang created by the author called Nadsat, inspired the Russian and Cockney dialect. Working incredibly to give you more depth with the characters, it’s almost an art of manipulation. Burgess forces you out of your comfort zone and into the dark minds of this fifteen year old boy.
Whenever there’s a first person narrative, I personally hesitate as it is the case whether or not the narrator can be a trusted source, especially as a character can make or break a story. Alex makes the story after he breaks through your consciousness, referring to himself as ‘Your Humble and Faithful Narrator’ or ‘Your Poor and Bloodied Narrator’. However, Burgess salvages this iconic character, the use of the narrative does trigger some empathy for the reader, what starts off as an uncanny beast, the opinion you have of him at the beginning of the novel changes.
There is no straight distinction between Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation, an extremely chilling viewing; the novel is by far absolutely gut-wrenching. As the novel is set in three parts, any reader would tell you how chapter four in the first part is a vile, wretched act, thankfully this was never put into the film and let’s just be darn glad of it! However, I cannot deny this is quite a surreal piece, there’s a sick love and hate for it; the pages, the dialect, the story, A Clockwork Orange feels like it should be kept away in the shadows; and just like the shadows, will follow you eerily with every page turned.
Interesting, disturbing, a no holds bar horror show; not for the faint-hearted or squeamish, this novel really crawls under your skin, especially whilst your reading from the view of the character of Alex. Much like the film adaptation, this novel is just as graphic and pulls your eyelids back to this cruel documentation. Hats off to the author, Anthony Burgess has created a perfect dystopian future of London as well as the new teenage slang that really showcases his pure, unrated talent.