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A Clockwork Orange

by Anthony Burgess

Alex and his three droogs go out at night and entertain themselves by raping and pillaging their own society. Their parents are too afraid of them to do anything about it, the government is more concerned about its own political survival, and all Alex really wants to do is be alone to enjoy some classical music and a little "Ultra- Violence."

But, when he is finally brought to justice, he decides to opt for the easy way out, the Ludivico Technique. It promises to make him a model citizen, incapable of a violent act, or even a violent thought. It will also make him incapable of defending himself from the society that "created" him in the first place.

Although many people are familiar with the film version of this story, it was in the novel that this dark fable was originally told. Burgess, always a master of prose, has created a philosophical story that rings true with the power of its ideas, and grabs hold of the reader through the vivid experiences of Alex. Told in his own idiom, a mix of Cockney rhyming slang and Russian, it is the story of a boy totally without moral concern and what happens to him when the moral choice of no morals is taken away from him.

(A. Mayer)


A Clockwork Orange
Anthony Burgess
Ballantine Books

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Until recently, the book was published in the United States without its final chapter (which is also where the film ends). In its complete form, it goes beyond his cure and tells of the strange thoughts entering his head as his youth passes away:

"I kept viddying like visions, like these cartoons in the gazettas. There was Your Humble Narrator Alex coming home from work to good hot plate of dinner, and there was this ptitsa all welcoming and greeting like loving. But I could not viddy her all that horrorshow, brothers, I could not think who it might be. But I had this sudden very strong idea that if I walked into the room next to the room where the fire was burning away and my hot dinner laid on the table, there I should find what I really wanted."

"It was round by the Municipal Power Plant that we came across Billyboy and his five droogs. Now in those days, my brothers, the teaming up was mostly by fours or fives, these being like auto- teams, four being a comfy number for an auto, and six being the outside limit for gang-size. Sometimes gangs would gang up so as to make like malenky armies for big night-war, but mostly it was best to roam in these like small numbers."

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