Monday, 30 September 2013

Reading List: Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess


Book 1: A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

Let's start with a plot to this rather disturbing and interesting novel.
 A Clockwork Orange takes place in a futuristic city governed by a repressive, totalitarian super-State. In this society, ordinary citizens have fallen into a passive stupor of complacency, blind to the insidious growth of a rampant, violent youth culture. The protagonist of the story is Alex, a fifteen-year-old boy who narrates in a teenage slang called nadsat, which incorporates elements of Russian and Cockney English. Alex leads a small gang of teenage criminals—Dim, Pete, and Georgie—through the streets, robbing and beating men and raping women. Alex and his friends spend the rest of their time at the Korova Milkbar, an establishment that serves milk laced with drugs, and a bar called the Duke of New York. The first night in the novel the gang of "droogs" head out onto the streets and attack a old man and a rival gang, they later steal a car and drive to a writer and his wife's cottage in the countryside. They rape and attack the writers wife while the writer watches as Alex sings "I'm singing in the rain". They later go to a old woman's house to steal and rape, Alex is attacked by the woman and eventually beats her to the ground. He attempts to leave but once outside he is attacked by his own "droogs" leaving him for the police. He is sent to prison, after the woman dies, for 14 years in a overcrowded prison. Alex is then selected to go under a new form of Aversion Therapy which he is subjected to a videos and music which under a serum makes Alex violently sick when he thinks of violent acts. He is released from the prison being considered harmless to society, kicked out from his own home he is beaten by his old "droogs" who are reformed police officers. While trying to find help from the beating he comes across the home of the old writer. The writer over time recognises Alex, who had raped and killed his wife years before, and tries to make Alex commit suicide by blasting the music used in the Aversion therapy through his walls. He jumps from the window and is admitted to hospital. In hospital Alex is told that the Aversion therapy has been removed. Alex then returns to his life of crime not feeling sick anymore but tires of his life. Later after tiring from this new lease of life he decides to leave the gang and he looks to his future.

My review/thoughts/what I personally picked up on: 
I really enjoyed the book, it's gritty view on the teenage sub-culture really interested me. Even though I got lost in the slang which Alex and his gang members used, I actually had to have a glossary up on my phone while reading this. The slang, Nadsat, used is a mixture of Russian and Cockney English and makes feel removed from Alex as a character. It also removes us from the violence is also causing, also the way the slang is used lacks remorse "Ultra- Violence" meaning rape. Burgess used Nadsat as this is the way he believed teenagers would be speaking in the future. This is contrasted in the way that the adults speak, the adults of the novel speak in a predictable manner. His parents speak in parental cliches, doctors in medical jargon, the police only speak in law and order terminology. It highlights the differences between the generations and how disconnected they are from each other.
The way society is seen in the eyes of Burgess is very interesting and twisted, the way he sees the youth culture. The way teenagers are represented in the novel are that they non-conformist and yobs. The only teenagers identified in the book is Alex, a rival gang who Alex and his "droogs" attack in the first section of the novel, and two girls whom Alex spots in the record shop and takes them to his home then rapes them. They are shown as evil almost, Alex's gang attacks others, the rival gang is about to rape a woman when Alex shows up in the first chapter, and the two girls are meant to be not much older than 10 and bunking of school. A newspaper article is read by Alex and his probation office which is on "The Modern Youth" and the chaos they are causing.
"The old in-and-out" aka. Sex is a way of showing power in A Clockwork Orange. Rape is a common feature of this novel, Alex and his "droogs" when they go to Mr. Alexander "ultra-violence" (rape) Mrs. Alexander while he watches. Alex does the same to the two girls bunking school. Deltiod, Alex's probation officer, grabs Alex's balls when in discussion with his to assert his dominance over Alex. The whole novel though boils down to controlling something through somebody, through many different methods but sex. Mr. Alexander saw Alex as a way to bring down the government, The Minster of the Interior saw Alex as a guinea pig in the Aversion therapy and also removal of the treatment, and Alex using violence and threats to control his own gang then buying them back once he's hurt them. Burgess shows the society as power hungry, greedy and will exploit others to get there way.

I personally loved this book, it's still current and examples of the treatment are still being used in places such as America to "reform" gay men (that is just sick personally), the way the government will always be partially true. The character of Alex is brilliant and the end, was just right and mature. I would recommend this book to anyone.

I just still can't watch the movie...I know what happens but images of it made me have to turn it off. Too much. But brilliant book.

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