A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

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Though written in 1963, I feel that such an outstanding piece of fiction as A Clockwork Orange deserves a modern review. This vicious tale follows the pillaging rampages of a violent adolescent. Based in the future, the protagonist Alex is a portrayal of decaying youth. Without morality or regret, Alex and his gang of twisted adolescents tear their way through the streets of their city committing vicious acts of violence and mischief with pleasure. After a falling out though, Alex's companions betray him to the millicents, or authorities. Alex faces the brutal corruption of the futuristic police and gladly confesses to all of his evildoings without remorse. After spending time in jail, the government puts Alex through an experimental procedure that aims to curb Alex's violent tendencies through psychological conditioning. The government “cures” Alex by conditioning him to become physically ill at the very thought of committing a crime.
This story raises the profound question of the nature of good and evil within a person. Though the government forces Alex to behave through their brutal conditioning, the innate part of him still desires to be naughty. The government makes him into nothing more than a “piece of clockwork,” a machine that cannot control its actions. Anthony Burgess so brilliantly writes Alex's tale that the reader cannot help but feel empathy for Alex, even though he is the despicable product of everything our society holds as wrong. The book transforms Alex from a viciously incurable deviant into a lovable victim of his environment.
This nightmarish vision of the future is even more incredibly rendered by its unique dialect. Alex and his friends speak in a form of Russo slang called Nadsat. Though the dialect makes the book hard to follow initially, it becomes an essential aspect of this horrific fable. The separate language of the youth of this futuristic society defines the nature of their resistant relationship with adults and authority, and creates their social pathology. Alex's phrases are almost poetic, adding a sort of whimsical flare to a horrific drama.
Though a challenging read, this unique tale is extraordinary and essential to the reading of young adults. Be warned thought that the content can be very mature, and I do not recommend it for those bellow high school age. A Clockwork Orange is one of my favorite books and worth reading.





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