A Clockwork Orange
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A Clockwork Orange

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  319,051 ratings  ·  6,179 reviews
A Clockwork Orange is as brilliant, transgressive, and influential as when it was published fifty years ago. A nightmare vision of the future told in its own fantastically inventive lexicon, it has since become a classic of modern literature and the basis for Stanley Kubrick 's once-banned film, whose recent reissue has brought this revolutionary tale on modern civilizatio...more
Paperback, 149 pages
Published 1996 by Penguin Books (first published 1962)
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Community Reviews

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Martine
Mar 22, 2008 Martine rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who don't mind a bit of a challenge
A Clockwork Orange is one of those books which everyone has heard of but which few people have actually read –- mostly, I think, because it is preceded by a reputation of shocking ultra-violence. I’m not going to deny here that the book contains violence. It features lengthy descriptions of heinous crimes, and they’re vivid descriptions, full of excitement. (Burgess later wrote in his autobiography: ‘I was sickened by my own excitement at setting it down.’) Yet it does not glorify violence, nor...more
Cecily
How to review an infamous book about which so much has already been said? By avoiding reading others’ thoughts until I’ve written mine.

There are horrors in this book, but there is beauty too, and so much to think about. The ends of the book justify the means of its execution, even if the same is not true of what happens in the story.


BOOK vs FILM

I saw the film first, and read the book shortly afterwards. Usually a bad idea, but in this case, being familiar with the plot and the Nadsat slang made...more
MJ Nicholls
A favourite of my late teens, still a favourite now. The brutality of male blooming and the private patois of our teenhood . . . splattered across this brilliant moral satire, abundant in vibrant, bursting language and a structural perfection: Shakespearean, dammit. Goddamn Shakespearean! nadsat is second only to the language in Riddley Walker for a perfectly rendered invented language that is consistent within the novel’s own internal logic. This book is musical! This book sings, swings, cries...more
Paul
In 1960 Anthony Burgess was 43 and had written 4 novels and had a proper job teaching in the British Colonial Service in Malaya and Brunei. Then he had a collapse and the story gets complicated. But I like the first cool version AB told, which was that he was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour and given a year to live. Since as you know he lived a further 33 years, we may conclude the doctors were not entirely correct. However - the doctor tells you you have a year to live - what do you d...more
Lindsay
May 29, 2012 Lindsay rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: British lit fans, Anthony Burgess fans, people who've seen the movie, scifi fans
Shelves: european-lit
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
hypothermya
Aug 13, 2007 hypothermya rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: linguiphiles, students of human behavior, rights-activists
I had been avoiding this book for several reasons. The first of these was perhaps the weighty reputation this book has for being shocking and controversial. I was slightly afraid that the book wouldn't be as monumental as it had been built up as. The second was my initial exposure to the Kubrik film based on this book. Even the most blase 14 year old will have a strongly negative reaction to the film; the exact response it was intended to elicit, I'm sure. Finally, this book seemed to be a polte...more
Paul
I’m not sure how I’ve got through over 50 years without reading this and this year I have one or two books on my list which could be titled “books I should have read as a teenager and probably shouldn’t read now”. This is one of them.
The history surrounding it is also interesting. Burgess was returning home with his wife from working abroad for six years in 1960, He was at this point diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour (mistakenly as it happens). He set to writing and wrote five and a half...more
Forrest
The American Review:

At times, I find beauty in dissonance. Take, for example, my eclectic music collection. I have my share of soothing music: new age, quiet electronica, and so forth. I have some popular mainstream music, mostly from the '80s. Some funk, some reggae, ska, a bit of trance and techno. Yes, there's the heavy metal, punk, classic rock from my youth, and even a little progressive death metal. And, amongst it all, a good dose of 20th century classical pieces by such composers as Geor...more
Wael Mahmoud
This novel without a doubt contains the most weird English Vocabulary i've ever read, It's unique from this aspect. Also some sentence structure are very strange and in the same time beautiful. Along with this language distinction, the black humor of every single sentence in Burgess' narration - on Alex's tongue - are unique and beautiful.

The 4 - and not 5 - stars because of the last chapter which spoil every thing about the novel's beauty, I advice any reader to cancel it or at least read it af...more
Paquita Maria Sanchez
This originally started out as a comment on Michael's awesome review, but then I realized that I have too frequently been writing these overly wordy responses to reviews about books I myself have yet to review, and it made me feel totally silly...as in, I should probably be keeping my rants contained to my own GR page rather than vomiting them all over all of your wonderful review threads. So! Here I am, and here is a review of a book that I read about 15 years ago, based solely on almost half-m...more
Maggie
I am the sort of person who can't watch very violent movies without covering my eyes or burrowing into my husband, who is kind enough to tell me when the gore has ceased.

However, I loved this book, for all the red, red krovvy and in-and-out and the ultraviolence. The dialect of Alex, your Humble Narrator, can be somewhat off-putting at first, which is something that Burgess himself admits in the introduction. But slowly you find yourself understanding the nonsense flowing so easily from his rot...more
Aubrey
3.5/5

Modern Library, Time Magazine, 1001 Books to Read Before You Die, The Guardian 1000, McCaffery, Barthelme, decoders of descendants of Rabelais, deciders of classics and producers of TV shows, all kowtowers to this work, one that says even more about the day and age when it is known that the last chapter was cut out of both US books and British movies for being too 'redeeming', leastwise till '86 rolled around and the editions reverted back to the intended 21, mark of the age of adulthood he...more
Annalisa
Jun 21, 2008 Annalisa rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: r rated. be forewarned of violence with a message
Interesting. Disturbing but insightful. Real horrorshow.

For as dark as cynical as the book is, the main point I got out of the book is that freedom of choice is more important than being good. Burgess takes the most atrocious person possible and strips him of his ability to choose until optimal vulnerability makes you agree that choosing evil is better than not choosing at all.

The obligatory warning that vague spoilers follow:

Here we have a futuristic society in which the night is overrun by you...more
Brad
'What's it going to be then, eh?'

That was me, that is your humble commentator, sitting down to pass my glazzies over a book eemyaed A Clockwork Orange I'd sobirated from the biblio. I was ready to be tolchocked in my litso, to have my mozg pried out of my gulliver, to feel that sickening drop in the yarbles when falling from a great tower block; I expected to be preached to by that nadmenny veck A. Burgess in all his high goloss; I expected to loathe Alex and all his malenky malchick droogs. But...more
Ian Paganus
The Cover

A black hole within a white zero within a black cog.

Darkness, nothingness and insignificance.

How It Came About I

The following account is from an article here:

http://www.creativereview.co.uk/cr-bl...

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess.
Cover by David Pelham (1972)

This has become quite a well-known image. However, something that none of these images [can] convey is the urgency and speed at which some of them had to be created. Neither can the images convey the additional complications cr...more
K.D. Absolutely
Jul 25, 2010 K.D. Absolutely rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Aaron (challenge yourself into reading a YA dystopian classic)
Recommended to K.D. by: TIME Magazine 100 Best Novels; 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010)
Shelves: 1001-core, 501, sci-fi, drugs
If the eating of the cake is in the pudding, then the reading of the book is in the language.

A Clockwork Orange (1962) by Anthony Burgess is a dystopian coming-of-age sci-fi and is one of the TIME Magazine's Best 100 Novels. For me, what makes this novel unique is the use of a fictional language that Burgess invented and called nadsat which is a mix of modified Slavic words, rhyming slang, derived Russian (like "baboochka"). In his interview, Burgess said that the reason why he invented a langu...more
Jan-Maat
Your opinion of this book may well have been decided purely on the basis of whether you read the US version which had (view spoiler) only twenty chapters or the standard version with all twenty-one chapters.

The twenty-one is symbolic and in that chapter Alex accepts man's estate. We realise that everything that has gone before was just a phase in his life that he would, in time, grow out of. The moral...more
Sandi
Well, what can I say about "A Clockwork Orange"? Maybe I should first suggest that anyone who wants to read it should print out this glossary: A Nadsat Glossary. I will be eternally grateful to Matt (Tadpole316) for sending me that link. My printout is looking a little rough.

I had seen the movie about 15 years ago. It was disturbing and many of the images were already so much a part of our cultural consciousness that it was at once familiar, yet disturbing. Many of the images are permanently et...more
Greg
My first full day at college, a Sunday, when everyone was probably out making friends and adjusting themselves I was locked up in my room struggling through this book. About a quarter of the way through when something about the language finally clicked in my head and everything became perfectly understandable to me was one of the high points in my reading life. Maybe I should have been out doing something with other people, but what could be nicer than being left along to read about ultraviolenc...more
Werner
Dec 31, 2009 Werner rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Serious science fiction fans
Recommended to Werner by: It was required reading for a class
My rating for this book doesn't reflect the degree to which I "enjoyed" or "liked" it, as such; as I once said to an English professor friend of mine at the college where I work, I think there are books which, because of their dark subject matter, you don't read for pleasure in the way you would more upbeat books, but which still give you enlightenment into the human moral, spiritual and social condition in ways that are well worth having. The authors didn't mean for you to "enjoy" these works....more
Michael
This is a dobby story about some young droogs (total prestoopniks), all the time dratsing and doing the ultra-violence. Alex, the leader, gets left oddy knocky after a botched robbery and gets picked up by the millicents, and that's when things get really bezoomny.

A Clockwork Orange is really less about violence and more about the experience of no longer "being yourself," no longer having a choice in your actions . . or is it about what it means to have freedom, and how dehumanizing it is to gi...more
midnightfaerie
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess was one of the most disturbing reads I've yet to come across. With a lot of violence and sex, it tries to convey a thought processing of how far is too far with punishment? A young man in a gang, does many an evil deed, only to end up being caught and used by the government in a new experiment that is almost inhumane. I won't spoil the details for you, but the boy goes through much torture, in order to be "cured" of being a derelict. Once released back into...more
Petertpc
You have to give Anthony Burgess a lot of credit for the amazing job he did creating the dystopian future London shown in this novel. His invented language, I'm assuming created out of thin air, was mind-blowing and really made me feel like I had left my world behind.

Ironically, I think that was part of my problem with the novel. I felt out of place and unsure of myself for a good portion of it because I really struggled with the language. Like being a tourist in a hostile city.

I know, it's no...more
Apatt
Neologisms in science fiction are double-edged swords, they can make the book more fantastical and be an important per of the world building, on the other hand if not handled right they can make the narrative impenetrable and downright irritating. I think a lot of people who do not finish A Clockwork Orange are put off by the bombardment of neologisms which begins from the first page of the book and never really let up. I almost gave up myself during the first chapter but decides to persevere be...more
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: 1* of five

This novella is a pursey-lipped Great Aunt Prudence-shocker, a piece made to play on the fears of right-wing conservative religious nuts and libertarian dupes of the twin perils of Moral Degeneracy and Government Intervention.

The rest of my review is at Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud.
Madeline
“I believe that we should read only those book that bite and sting us. If a book we are reading does not rouse us with a blow to the head, then why read it? Because it will make us happy, you tell me? My God, we would also be happy if we had no books, and the books that make us happy we could, if necessary, write ourselves. What we need are books that affect us like some really grievous misfortune, like the death of one whom we loved more than ourselves, as if we were banished to distant forests...more
Becky
4.5 stars

My oh my, what a difference time and format can make. I remember the first time I read this book. It was probably 2005, maybe 2006, and I was working in the "Consumer Relations" department at my customer service job. Basically, I was the helpdesk, tech support, and the person you talk to when you call somewhere pissed off about something and ask for a manager, but you aren't connected to a manager - you're connected to me. (Believe me, we hate that just as much as you do - we got all t...more
Stephen
4.5 stars. Classic science fiction novel and a prime example of the dystopian future. I saw the movie before readimg the book and I think that the movie certainly did a good job of capuring the tone of the novel. Highly recommended.
Alex
Nov 07, 2013 Alex rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those with a strong stomach.
Shelves: reviews
A Real Horrorshow Novel

"Oh it was gorgeousness and gorgeosity made flesh. The trombones crunched redgold under my bed, and behind my gulliver the trumpets three-wise silverflamed, and there by the door the timps rolling through my guts and out again crunched like candy thunder. Oh, it was wonder of wonders. And then, a bird of like rarest spun heavenmetal, or like silvery wine flowing in a spaceship, gravity all nonsense now, came the violin solo above all the other strings, and those strings...more
Komal
A bit of a forewarning: A Clockwork Orange is not for the faint-hearted, the weak-minded or the light-boweled. It consists of extreme amounts of graphic violence and you should not take this forewarning as a psychologically-reversed urge to make you read (because, some people, Dear God).

“Is it better for a man to have chosen evil than to have good imposed upon him?”

The book is, in perspective, an entire study of this one single question. Is a society, infested with disastrous figures of violence...more
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Anthony Burgess was a British novelist, critic and composer. He was also a librettist, poet, playwright, screenwriter, essayist, travel writer, broadcaster, translator, linguist and educationalist. Born in Manchester, he lived for long periods in Southeast Asia, the USA and Mediterranean Europe as well as in England. His fiction includes the Malayan trilogy (The Long Day Wanes) on the dying days o...more
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“Is it better for a man to have chosen evil than to have good imposed upon him?” 591 likes
“We can destroy what we have written, but we cannot unwrite it.” 484 likes
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