Sarah's Reviews > A Clockwork Orange

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
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Mar 30, 2008

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bookshelves: classics, social-commentary
Recommended to Sarah by: Adam Page
Read in September, 2008 , read count: 1

** spoiler alert ** Before you continue onto the rant portion of this review, please note that I enjoyed reading this book, I thought the language was brilliant and a fun adventure, and I found the plot to be original and insightful.

Having said that...

I feel like there are other books that do what "A Clockwork Orange" tried to do, but better - even other Burgess books.

Most of what was revolutionary about this book came from shock value. There is so much violence, so much sociopathy, that of course this book feels new and different. But when it comes down to it, that was all that was really there.

I believed for a while that the theme of the story was important and valuable. But then I read the last chapter - the chapter that Burgess so vehemently defends in the preface to this book. For those of you who have clicked on this link but actually read an earlier edition of the book, Burgess laments throughout his entire preface that in previous American editions, the publishers cropped out the last (21st) chapter.

After reading to the end of the 20th, stopping, and giving a thought to what the book would have said to me had it ended there, I moved on. And by the end of the 21st chapter, I was disgusted. The 21st chapter of this book is a complete cop-out that reduces the entire message of the book to a condescending, parental attitude of "Don't worry, they'll grow out of it."

The implications of this are twofold, the first being that the root of the evil in this book, which was in earlier chapters suggested to be a morally bankrupt society, is actually nothing more than teenage impetuousness. The second is a facet that Burgess completely ignores: even if youth is the root of all evil, how can we be so nonchalant about it? Will there not always be youth? Do we then not have a responsibility to make youth something other than what Burgess asserts that it is - violent, rebellious, and worthless? The moral responsibilities we as a society have to combat this sort of thing are never addressed, and I closed the book feeling like a child who received a pat on the head, an empty reassurance, and an "And they all lived happily ever after" at the end of a bedtime story full of wicked witches and horrible villains.

I suppose it's a matter of opinion. I'm sure the modern age must have made me less content with stories written solely for the purpose of a happy ending and I am predisposed to authors who take the risk of ending on an unsatisfactory note. But whatever the reason, I was extremely dissatisfied after finishing the 21st chapter, whereas after finishing the 20th, I was merely nonplussed.
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Isobel I have to agree with you 100% here. I think this book was good but the hype surrounding it created the cult following. I didn't like the film as I found it so sickening to watch. I like horror films but this one just didn't sit right. I am a big fan of dystopian books and film but this one was the best.


Dani I think the 21 chapter book has a different meaning- no matter how terrible some is, they can choose to change their ways, as well as to be a good persons you need empathy. The 21 chapter isn't a cop out of the book, it is the book. To me, if like 21 chapter the best, because it one time book where the narrator, Alex, really reflect about what happen and present a clear theme.

I don't understand what americans and 21 chapter? Every other edition I. Ever other country include the 21 chapter and it was just as popular. I feel people forget that the 21 chapter was the artist original hope for what the boom should be.


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