A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

Article published on April 18, 2017.

In the secretive aura of reading a once banned book, I pulled down a thin little hardback that, if my memory serves me right, was a ‘give away’ book by some newspaper a few years back (The Independent). I have to say that after actually purposefully reading it again, fully this time, I felt no further attraction for it at all, much like after my first lame attempt at half reading it.

Written by Anthony Burgess, first published in 1962, one would expect the book to be quite the decent novel, but it has somehow passed me by with any decent writing. The irritating slang language used throughout its pages is wearisome in the extreme to be honest. The dustcover tells us that it is actually a Anglo-Russian slang language, known as Nadsat, maybe it is intellectually brilliant, but it did nothing for me, or, anyone else that I know who has read it, or at least attempted to.

The storyline is clever, the situations cleverly different, the musical juxtaposition with Beethoven, or Ludwig van as the villain names him, and the extreme futuristic violence and sexual shenanigans that permeate the book, just do not work together to my mind. I have no beef with violence, or sex for that matter in literature, but to put it all together with the almost indecipherable slang, renders it so frustratingly crass, that the novel is spoilt for me.

     All the time we were sirening off to the rozz-shop, me being wedged between two millicents and being given the odd thump and malenky tolchock by these smeeking bullies. Then I found I could open up my glaz-lids a malenky bit and viddy like through all the tears etc.

This quote was picked at random from the middle of the book and it typifies the content. Yes I could more or less understand what is happening, but did I need to learn a language to enjoy it? I guess the film version made the book more of a success far easier than on its own merits, a visual guide is usually the easier choice. The author states quite clearly, for those who want to find out about him, that it took him just three weeks to write it, and boy does it show. If I am missing something intellectual within this book, then so be it, I know what I like, and this book is not to my taste at all.

Reg Seward
April 2017

(Former) Ed: Couldn’t agree more, Reg, and the current pbk jkt seems to lack a little imagination just to match!





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