Sunday, January 14, 2007

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reissue edition (November 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393312836
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393312836
  • List Price: $13.99
  • I finished this book on Jan. 15
  • Number 65 on the list
So, this is one of those that I have heard about all my life, but don't really know anything about it. I haven't seen the movie (though I'm netflixing it) and I didn't really know much, except that it was violent. Little did I know that it was written in another language. No, really, I would say that at least 50% of the things our 'humble narrator' says are in his made up slang. This was really off-putting at first, but I finally figured it out. That said, it's pretty hard to use context clues when most of the words in a sentence don't make sense. It reminded me of sitting in Italian classes (ugh).
Anywho: the story is about a future in which lawlessness is rampant, and evil teen gangs rule the night. Little else is known about this future and the society in which the story takes place. I would have liked to hear more about that, personally, but I don't really think it takes away either. Alex, our main character and narrator, has a little gang that steals, beats helpless old men, and rapes women in front of their wives. For fun. He is also a classical music enthusiast. His buddies eff him over and he goes to jail, where his jail buddies do the same. He then goes through a conditioning treatment which steals from him both the abilities to enjoy violence and classical music. Eventually he is fixed and allowed to be violent again and then decides to grow up.
The major theme of the book is the importance of choice. When Alex is conditioned he isn't being bad but he also isn't choosing to be good. I think it's hard to realize all that underneath the violence and shenanigans. You also sort of feel bad for the little sociopath rapist at times.
Plus, after I finished reading it I found a glossary of the slang language on line and I'm mad I spent all that time trying to figure it out. Either way, I think it's an interesting book, sideways thumb, you know? Not quite thumbs up or down.
Anyone interested can check out the sparknotes on it here.

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

hey, bee -

diggin' the page; gives me ideas of books and makes me jealous of how much you read!

one comment that got me that i thought i'd make you aware of:
"rapes women in front of their wives"

made me laugh - as wrong as that is!