Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

Adrift in the impersonal, iron-gray society of the superstate, the novel's main character, 15-year-old Alex, leads his gang of teenage rockers in all-night orgies of random violence and destruction.
Told in a slang as electric as the events described, this is Alex's story -- of rapes and stompings and rumbles with the police, of prison life and the frightful "Ludovico Technique" by which Alex is "reconditioned" into a model citizen, and of his subsequent adventures as a mindless pawn in the cynical hands of the authorities.

~Print copy, 169 pages
First Published: 1965 by Ballantine Books

 Well, doesn't that summary just make him sound like a victim?

Let me start this off saying that it wasn't the voice that drove me away; it was the character. The voice is quite unique; I had to peek in the glossary every two sentences, but once I got the gist of the slang, it became easier and a smoother read.

But the character I have no sympathy for. Alex does worse than "nothing to endear him to me" -- he, during the course of the novel, asks the reader to feel sorry for him, like some slimy character asking for forgiveness just to stab you in the back again. He ends up in jail for rape and murder; not because of the "cynical hands of the authorities" but of his own volition. He tries to force control over a gang of his "droogs", and one of them leaves him for the authorities to deal with.

And then, there's the Ludovico Technique. I reserve my own opinions about that -- this post will not end up a discussion of choice vs. crime -- but I will say this: I have learned from this book never to sign contracts without reading them.And, of course, that Alex is not any more endearing because he went through this technique -- *mock-sob* poorvictim -- because he's the idiot that signed over his own choice.

Not to say, though, it isn't interesting to note that not only is he conditioned against violence by making him sick, the background music of the violent films he watched also made him sick. (Note to self: Post later on classical conditioning?) Amazing how it's the details that catch us up, and sometimes come back to haunt us.

I give this book a three (which is, generally, my lowest rating). From a literary standpoint, this is an interesting novel -- a look into the mind of a criminal, unique voice, all that jazz -- but if you're just reading this for fun, I have the feeling you'll turn your nose up at the main character, too -- which makes it awful hard to like.


[I could go into a lot more detail, but I made this post pretty short. Have you read this supposed classic, and do you have an opinion? Feel free to elaborate or refute my opinions!]

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