Dominic asked:

Is this book hard to understand the writing???

To answer questions about A Clockwork Orange, please sign up.
Eugene Leventhal It's not all fictional language, a good portion of it is slang based off of transliterated Russian. It can be a little frustrating at first (even if you speak Russian), but I think it’s totally worth it as it adds an interesting element of providing cultural context. The book was written in the ‘60’s, so I couldn’t help but see Burgess' use of this kind of slang as part of his social/cultural commentary in relation to the kind of person Alex was in the start of the story, and the times which set the stage for such a person to come about (both in terms of major political issues and desire for counter-culture). I think it's worth the effort. Plus with the link that Daniel Weaver provided, it should be a breeze!
Daniel Weaver It's only tricky for the first chapter. The author uses a fictional registry of words, so it's expected to refer to a glossary to figure it out. Luckily, the set of words used is pretty small and they are reused often. After you get the hang of it, it becomes pretty fun to read.

The name of the registry is Nadsat at and you can use the following glossary:
Kimberly I read it in University as part of my Lit. class. The class as a whole, including the Prof., stated it was difficult to read the slang; but to concentrate on the context/subject matter of the book.

Personally, if I need another text, glossary, or cheat notes to understand a novel...then, it's not enjoyable and hard to finish.

Christopher A bit. I audiobooked it just to get the rhythm, then I was able to read on my own. The linguistic journey is essential, though, to the book on the whole.
kenny Honestly, it depends. I've seen some people find it easy to understand, and I've seen others say they had trouble reading all the way through. I found myself frequently using a glossary at the start of the book, but after a while it got easier and easier -- that's just me though. Also, the context helped me a bunch. It's not too bad.
FlashI3ack As a non-native speaker I found it annoying at first but ultimately it is readable, even without a glossary. If I remember right, one should generally not use the glossary either way, at least it is not advised in the first read-through.
Matt Cavagnetto No. I also advise against using a glossary, since slowly being made accustomed to a new idiom is part of the authorial theme of the book.
Mariana English is not my first language so it was really hard to read because I couldn't divide not normally used vocabulary from Nadsat. That made the book interesting but kind of boring, and from the start Alex seemed a bit unschoolled to me. I was surprised with him going to school, he looked like a dropout with his loose slang.
Patrick Leahy I read the book before I saw the movie, and I almost regret that because the language of Nadsat is much easier to understand once you've heard it read aloud. But it's not horrible, even if you don't refer to a glossary (Which for some idiotic reason I did not) you tend to pick it up soon enough.
KT I was nervous about the slang when I first started reading it. It's actually not that bad. Most of it can be understood from context. If a word is tricky, it's no big deal to use a glossary. Some books have them in the back. You can also just go to Google and search "Nadsat glossary".

Once you get used to the language, it just flows. In my opinion, it is a challenge to get used to the Nadsat in the first few pages, but I think it's worth it.
Holly It's like those erratic line puzzles. Someone holds one up and you feel anger and resentment for a hot minute because you don't see the magical hidden picture. Once you never have to strain your eyes again, the pictures appear every time with very little effort. Just read. Don't think about the vocabulary. Your discomfort with not understanding the Droogs' lingo is the genius of Burgess using the reader's isolation to build trust with the story and characters. Eventually you will ease your way into their bubble and understand as if it were your natural voice.
Timothy Morrison it is impossible
Sara I really enjoyed the audiobook. For me the act of listening, rather than reading, made it much easier to understand, having the rhythm of the sentences and the tone of voice to help in "translating." Tom Hollander is an excellent reader.
Summer Alexander At first, a little. However you will get used to it quickly because you start to learn the slang.
Bill Golden If you speak some Russian, it helps. Most of the slang is borrowed from Russian roots (there's a lot of "bolshy," from the Russian большой, and "malenky," from маленький).
Ivan Spodeneyko I've read in russian , so the slang dosnt bother me at all. But my american friend had a hard time to read it. He always asked me to explain some words.
Tabatha It starts out difficult to understand, but the more you read the more it becomes clear what words are replaced with which fictional words. I recommend giving it a read. You don't have to sit down and read it all in one sitting. I suggest reading it a chapter at a time. Let yourself absorb what you've read.
Charles I didn't think so. It had some slang that was made up(Russian or Russian-sounding). Made up, but I didn't think it was difficult to get from context. You can't have future punks talking like their parents, after all.

I remember the language feeling a lot like the movie did, although it had been a while since I'd last seen the movie when I read the book.
Image for A Clockwork Orange
Rate this book
Clear rating

About Goodreads Q&A

Ask and answer questions about books!

You can pose questions to the Goodreads community with Reader Q&A, or ask your favorite author a question with Ask the Author.

See Featured Authors Answering Questions

Learn more