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Monday, July 9, 2018

A Clockwork Orange

I generally don't watch movies based on books that I'm planning to read but A Clockwork Orange slipped through while I was making my way through AFI's 100 Greatest Films.  It was actually probably for the best.  I think the movie made it much easier for me to comprehend what was happening as I read the book.  Anthony Burgess's novel uses a made up slang with literally hundreds of words largely based on the Russian language.  It can be difficult to comprehend what is happening, especially because the narrator uses a somewhat forced and awkward formality.

Image result for a clockwork orange book

The book is about a juvenile delinquent who is ultimately caught and sentenced to an extended prison sentence.  This didn't really bother me like most juvenile incarcerations do, since he really did pretty much every horrible thing you can imagine.  In order to get out early, he volunteers for an experimental program that attempts to reprogram his brain.  Through this conditioning, as well as its outcomes, the novel explores notions of good and evil, free will, crime and punishment, and, to a lesser extent, music.

The story is interesting but the style and made up slang make it a slog without adding anything to the experience.  I imagine there are others who absolutely love it, it just wasn't for me.  I will note that those who read early U.S. printings or watched the movie (which was based on those printings) haven't read the entire novel as Burgess intended it.  While Burgess's view differs from the publisher's on how it transpired, it was printed without the last chapter.  It actually ends on a much more upbeat note than you might think.

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