"A Clockwork Orange": book reviews, author and summary
"A Clockwork Orange": book reviews, author and summary

Video: "A Clockwork Orange": book reviews, author and summary

Video: "A Clockwork Orange": book reviews, author and summary
Video: A Clockwork Orange- book summary, brief analysis and review! 2023, October

British writer Andrew Burgess entered the history of literature as the author of the satirical dystopia A Clockwork Orange. The book quickly became popular, but after the release of the film in 1972, it took a place in the list of the most iconic books of the 20th century. What determines the success of the work?

About the author

The writer's full name is John Anthony Burgess Wilson. He took his middle name as a pseudonym, as he worked in one of the British colonies in Malaysia, where administration officials were not allowed to write under their own name. Burgess began his literary career at the age of 38. The annotation to the book "A Clockwork Orange" says that this is the author's most famous work. In fact, he has published more than 40 novels, among them the equally famous Power of the Earth, Honey for the Bears, The Man from Nazareth, Long Way to Tea Party, and Shakespeare in Love.

Through all his work, one theme runs like a red thread - evil in modern societyand history. Burgess was concerned with the free will of man before choosing between good and evil. This same problem was at the heart of A Clockwork Orange. The genre of this work in literature is defined as utopia, black humor or science fiction. The film, which director Stanley Kubrick made in 1972 based on the book, is classified as a detective and drama. Perhaps this is a more accurate definition. The success of the film overshadowed all other works of the writer. They cover a wide range of genres and historical periods, because Burgess himself denied limitations - both in creativity and in life.

a clockwork orange book short
a clockwork orange book short


As Burgess put freedom of choice first in his books, so he valued it in life. At heart, he was an eternal traveler and took pleasure in traveling freely around the world. He said: “The most interesting thing in the life of a writer is that he does not need to be in one place. He is not a sculptor who needs a large studio where he can place large blocks. A writer needs only a typewriter and paper to work. And wherever he is, he wonders why he is here?”

Burgess bought himself a motor home. He liked to live and work there. This house was perfect for traveling because it had everything. It was equipped with modern fixtures, it even had bookshelves and a minibar. It seemed that he was at home, but in fact he could go on the road at any moment. He stopped his motorhome in the most picturesque places in Europe.


A Clockwork Orange author Anthony Burgess was born to Irish Catholic parents in the industrial working-class city of Manchester in northern England on February 25, 1917. He does not remember his mother. In 1919, at the end of World War I, the Spanish flu raged, killing the writer's mother and sister in one week.

When Anthony was 5 years old, his father announced that he would have a new mother. The second wife of John Wilson was Margaret Dauer, owner of the Golden Eagle pub. Burgess never talked about his childhood until 1986, when The Pianists was published. In the book, he wrote about the life of his father, a pianist who performed in pubs and music halls. The stepmother despised the boy, and the father did not pay any attention to his son. Music was Anthony's only outlet, it became an integral part of his childhood and life in Manchester.

Burgess studied at the Catholic Xeverian College. The author of the book "A Clockwork Orange" joked that there he was instilled not only with the correct pronunciation, but also with a fear of hellfire. Anthony read voraciously and adored Don Quixote. Dreamed of becoming a composer. At the age of 16, he became disillusioned with the Catholic faith and this event had a huge impact on him. As Burgess himself said, “When an Anglican apostate from the faith, the process is gentle. But for a Catholic, apostasy is comparable to broken bones and torn muscles, as if a person’s brain is being emptied.”

a clockwork orange book author
a clockwork orange book author

Student years

In 1937, failing the exams inConservatory, at the age of 20, Burgess entered the University of Manchester, where he studied English literature and phonetics. During my studies, I developed an interest in languages, which would later become a lifelong passion. This would show up not only in the plot of A Clockwork Orange as a new language, nadsat, but in 1978 Burgess was approached by a French director to come up with some simple language for the film Fighting Fire.

Burgess' student years were during the war in Spain. There were many communist students at the university, but Anthony was never interested in political movements and utopian ideals. He was disgusted by the Marxist theory that it is possible to create an ideal society and an ideal person.

Burgess met Luella Jones, a Welsh Protestant and political science student. They married when she was 18 and Burgess was 22. The diploma of the future author of the book "A Clockwork Orange" Anthony Burgess received in early 1940, when England was already bombarded by the Nazis. He asked to go to the front, but he was sent to a provincial hospital. Soon Anthony was transferred to a military band and finally sent to the Gibr altar area as a teacher.

British Malaya

In 1946, Burgess was demobilized and found a teaching position at an Oxford school. Every evening he spent in the pub, convinced that his future was not connected with music, he prepared to write. The first book, Vision of Battle, was published in 1953. It was an ironic novel based on his own combat experience in Gibr altar. After a few monthsa book about an ordinary provincial school "The Worm and the Ring" was published. No one had written about it then, and Burgess described everything that really happened there.

The teachers did their job, but treated it with great cynicism. Burgess suffocated in such an environment and applied for a teaching position in the colony. He was soon sent to Malaya, where he became an English teacher. In the same place, by mail to Bodobar, Burgess sent the manuscript of the novel "The Time of the Tiger", which brought the first success. In it he wrote about Malaya. Many stories were written about her, but Burgess spoke about her through the eyes of a stranger: planters and their wives, playing bridge, adultery in the bungalows of officials.

anthony burgess a clockwork orange book
anthony burgess a clockwork orange book

Return to England

Burgess left Malaya due to illness. The writer's wife was told that he had a tumor and he had very little time left to live. At the end of 1959 they returned to England. Anthony recalled: “I felt a responsibility to my future widow. I had to provide for it and could not earn enough. To achieve this, I had to write at least 2,000 words before breakfast.” He wrote six novels that year.

Among them was the first novel in a series about the poet Enderby. He went on to write four more books in the series. In 1964, Mr. Enderby from the inside came out, in 1968 - Enderby from the outside, Enderby's End in 1974 and the last book, Enderby No End, was published in 1984. The tragicomic character of these novels, the misanthropic poet, writes his poems while sitting on the toilet and argues that it is time to performmarital duty towards a young wife. Before Burgess, no one dared to write about sex in this manner. A year after the publication of the first Enderby book, A Clockwork Orange was published.

What is the book about, or background of creation

In 1962, he wrote the story of a teenager, Alex, who kills and rapes people along with his gang. In reviews of the book "A Clockwork Orange" they wrote that it was cruel and could provoke a wave of crimes. But the writer saw things differently. At that time, rock and roll began to gain popularity, the first riots associated with it were in the Elephant and Castle pub, then demonstrations followed. The whole country has risen against the new current.

Burgess saw the threat of the new society that emerged in the late 50s, symbolized by teenagers. In addition, he was preoccupied with the violence that flourished in the gangs of the Teddy Boys and the gangs that replaced them, Mauds and Rockers, between which there were often bloody skirmishes. In A Clockwork Orange, the writer wanted to show the society of the future, so he set the action in the 70s and came up with a new language for them.

a clockwork orange book
a clockwork orange book

History of Nadsat language

The history of the creation of the language helps to see what the author wanted to show the reader - the combination of English and Russian is inspired by two superpowers - capitalist democracy and Soviet communism. It is not without reason that the author used this combination, it means the society in which the main character lives. And the two political powers are not as far apart as it seems at first glance.

In 1961year "eternal traveler" Burgess visited Russia. Then the decision came to create a special language “nadsat” - from Russian numerals from 11 to 19 - “eleven”. Explaining the meaning and content of the book "A Clockwork Orange", the author specified that the carriers of nadsat are teenagers - "teenagers" or "teenagers" (literally "teenagers"). In English, by adding the suffix teen, numbers from 13 to 19 are formed.

“A mixture of languages”, Russian and English, sounds like a warning: regardless of country, nationality, social system or time, a person from an early age carries evil in himself, which the author put into the meaning of the book “A Clockwork Orange”. To revive the novel, to give it a touch of futurism, the author, abandoning the modern cockney slang, used slang words and new ones taken from the Russian language - nadsat.

When translating the work, these words, of course, caused difficulties. It was necessary not only to convey the idea of the author, the meaning and content of the book "A Clockwork Orange", but also to make the words look unusual for both the English-speaking reader and the Russian-speaking one. English-speaking readers also faced difficulties, since the meaning of the words was not directly explained in the novel. In Russian translations, these words are written in Latin - droog, litso, viddy, or in Cyrillic English words - “ayzy”, “face”, “men”. In the film, the characters drink milk with tranquilizers in the Korova bar, and its walls are decorated with inscriptions moloko, moloko plus.

Teen Evil

In reviews of the book "A Clockwork Orange" readers write that this is a work of extremely courageousman, because the author's first wife was a victim of rape. Luelle lost the child she was pregnant with. She never recovered from the experience and became an alcoholic. Burgess suffered greatly. He could write about his pain, sadness. But he didn't. Instead, he created the character of A Clockwork Orange, made him charming, endowed him with the ability to listen and feel music, as he loved it, especially Beethoven.

This novel became a kind of atonement for the author, because he was very worried that he could not save Luelle from alcoholism. In reviews of the book "A Clockwork Orange" some write that reading it, you experience great disgust. But evil is evil. And teenage evil is shown in the novel as it is. One could justify the author and say that society is more cruel. But Burgess put a completely different idea into the novel - that it is human to err in general.

Alex, the protagonist of Burgess' book A Clockwork Orange, goes a long way from rapist to decent member of society. His path consists of disappointments, joys and mistakes. Government attempts to get Alex to reform are unsuccessful.

According to Burgess, if society forces a person to be positive, then he becomes nothing more than a "clockwork orange", that is, mechanized, artificial. The writer lived for a long time in Malaysia, where the word orang means “man”, in English it means “orange”. It is impossible to impose behavior by force, a person must realize his actions himself, outgrow them on his own experience.

a clockwork orange book analysis
a clockwork orange book analysis

Burgess Trilogy

The novel has three parts. In the first, the author introduces the reader to the world of the main character Alex Delarge - he is simultaneously obsessed with a thirst for violence and a craving for beauty. He listens to Bach's "Brandenburg Concerto" and the title of the book "A Clockwork Orange" rises before his eyes. In a brief description, it is difficult to convey the enormity of the actions of Alex's gang. Once, breaking into the cottage, they beat the owner-writer with brass knuckles. As they left, "he lay in a pool of blood." and scribbled sheets of paper scattered across the floor. And when Alex “drawed strength” from classical music, a white sheet of paper suddenly appeared before his eyes, on which it was written in large letters: “A Clockwork Orange”. Only then did the hidden meaning of this name begin to reach him, and he wonders: “Will I comprehend it to the end?”

Alex is framed by his friends and goes to jail in the second part of A Clockwork Orange. In a summary, it is impossible to convey the thoughts of the protagonist, in which there was not a drop of regret for the crimes he had committed. Prison doesn't change him. The author gives the reader the opportunity to understand that it is impossible to correct a person by punishment. After two years in prison, Alex is offered to take part in a medical experiment in exchange for his freedom. He is brainwashed to become incapable of violence, but the "Ludovico method" has a side effect - the test subject develops an aversion to classical music.

The third part of the book "A Clockwork Orange", the description of which is the subject of our review, tells about what happened inAlex's life after prison. That's what he says: "In the wild it's worse than in prison." Parents kick him out of the house, past victims, meeting him on their way, cruelly take revenge on him. When he was very ill, he was picked up by the same man who they “broke his head” in his own house when he was writing a strange book “A Clockwork Orange”. The man's brief explanations about choice and rights made Alex "do his feet", but the friends of this "human rights activist" caught him and locked him up to calm down. It was then that he heard “that very” music of J. S. Bach and decided to jump out the window from the seventh floor. After a suicide attempt, Alex undergoes treatment in the hospital, after which he returns to his former life, and there is no trace of Ludovico's method. “I saw myself running on the sea and cutting with a razor the face of the world, distorted by pain. I was finally he althy.”

But in the very last chapter, Alex meets Pete's ex-friend and his wife and realizes that he "grew" out of crime. Alex "became an adult." He wants to find a wife to nurse their son. Live a quiet family life.

a clockwork orange book reviews
a clockwork orange book reviews

Main character

Alex is the epitome of teenage rebellion and aggression. He is the leader of a youth gang that wanders around the city at night, arranges bloody battles with other gangs, attacks passers-by, humiliates and maims people, robs shops and shops. The protagonist of the book gets great pleasure from rape and beatings. Drugs “help” him maintain the level of aggression at the proper level, he draws strength fromlistening to your favorite Beethoven music. The guy is incorrigible, the attempts of the state and the people around him to influence him and make him law-abiding only amuse Alex.

Other characters

Alex's accomplice Tem - a dark guy, hence his nickname - is not distinguished by quick wit and intelligence, but surpasses his accomplices "in anger and in possession of all the mean tricks of the fight." The chain is a favorite weapon, with which he hits the eyes of the enemy. Alex himself speaks of him with disgust. Dim (as the guy's name is in the original, from English dim) then leaves the gang and becomes a police officer.

Alex's friend Georgie has always been jealous of Alex's leadership of the gang. After a conflict with him, Alex overestimates his abilities, kills an old woman and ends up in prison. Georgie was killed during a robbery at the "capitalist's house".

The fates of these teenagers reflect the possible paths that a representative of their world can take. The most calm person from this gang is Pete, it is he who helps Alex see life with different eyes.

“Crystallography lover” is a victim of one of the crimes. An elderly weak man was attacked by Alex's gang, but later attacked the "cured" offender along with the same old men. The writer introduced this character deliberately, wanting to emphasize the helplessness of the “cured” protagonist, who is not able to fight off even a weak old man.

Dr. Branom - a scientist who experimented with the treatment of aggression. Alex became the "object" of his experiments. Doctor bribes his subjects with ostentatious friendliness, calls himselffriend and trust them. The author shows scientists as very ruthless towards their “wards”.

Features of the novel

The scene and time are not specified in the novel. Presumably this is the future. The narration is conducted on behalf of the protagonist and the reader immediately sees his attitude to the environment - contempt and the desire to stand out from the background of others, even through violence. That is why he becomes the leader in the gang. Oddly enough, but in Alex both the craving for violence and the craving for beauty coexist. Another type of violence that was applied to him is the “Ludovico method”. Alex does not want to be kind, but he is forced to. This is personal violence. The motives of this help to reveal the main themes of the work.

Alex uses nadsat to describe life around him. From the outside it seems that he is a foreigner, as he speaks slang. The reader tries to look at the world through his eyes and thus plunges into the world of violence that the protagonist commits in the first part of the novel. Involuntarily, he begins to develop sympathy for Alex as a narrator. To some extent, nadsat is a kind of “brainwashing”, so as you read the work, your view of the world around you changes. With this tongue, you can control others.

burgess a clockwork orange book
burgess a clockwork orange book

Analysis of the product

Continuing the analysis of the book "A Clockwork Orange", it is necessary to clarify that the leitmotif of this novel is classical music. And the structure of the work resembles an opera: three parts of seven chapters. The first and third mirror each other, the seconddiametrically opposed to them. In the first and last parts, the action takes place mainly on the street, in an apartment or a country house, in the second part - in prison.

Both the first and second parts begin with the same question: “So what now?” Only in the first part, Alex asks himself this question, and in the second part, the head of the prison touches him. The first and third parts are similar in plot - in one, Alex comes off on his victims, in the other - they are on him. They are like a reflection of each other, and these parallels help to follow the development of the plot.

References to God have two functions in the novel:

  1. The author proposes to trace the parallel between the life of Alex and the life of Christ. A martyr who gave up his individuality in the name of society; the story of the protagonist consists of three parts, similar to the three last days of Christ. Christ dies, they bury him, he rises on the third day. Alex is caught in the first part of the novel, “buried” in prison in the second part of the novel, and in the third part he returns to a semblance of life. In addition, one of the commandments is mentioned in the second part - “whoever strikes you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also.”
  2. Unobtrusive references to the Bible. Alex, in his desire for violence, compares himself to the Romans who crucified Christ. The author involuntarily identifies the main character with the whole state - with the Romans.

Classical music is an integral part of Alex's life: he commits violence, comes home and relaxes listening to Beethoven. Perhaps that is why the distaste for music became a side effect of the treatment.


Romance badsold, needing money, Burgess undertook to write critical articles in magazines and newspapers. He worked as a critic until his death. Several collections of his articles have been published. In addition, he wrote several biographies of writers. In 1964, to facilitate his work as a journalist, Burgess purchased a house in south London. He wrote for television and drama theater. To do this, it was necessary to visit the opera and the theater. There was no time left to write books.

Nevertheless, in 1963 the novel “Honey for Bears” was published, in 1966 “The Trembling of Intention”. Both books are satires of spy novels. All of Burgess's novels explore the problem of evil and good. Although he lost his faith in his youth, he examined the issue from a Catholic point of view. She influenced Anthony not only in books like A Clockwork Orange, but also in subsequent works.

Despite his rejection of the faith, Burgess was grateful to a Catholic education for getting to know writers he admired. The writers whose style he adopted, whose language he used, were all Catholics. Among them, he especially singled out D. Joyce. Burgess dedicated seven books to his favorite writer. In addition, he admired Shakespeare, and in 1964 he published the book "Shakespeare in Love" about the writer's love works.

a clockwork orange book review
a clockwork orange book review

Film Award

In the 60s, Hollywood acquired the right to shoot a film based on the book "A Clockwork Orange". In 1970, while on the road, Burgess learned that Stanley Kubrick was filming for him.movie. The author did not participate in the filming, because Kubrick did not want to discuss the script with anyone. The meaning of A Clockwork Orange is lost because the script didn't include much of the original text.

The director sent him to the US to receive the prize that was awarded to the film. When the creators were called on the stage, Burgess stood up and said: "The Lord sent me, sorry, Stanley Kubrick, to receive this award." The writer had nothing more to do with the film. After the screening in the UK, a scandal erupted in America that the film would give rise to a wave of violence. Unflattering reviews of the book A Clockwork Orange rained down. Detractors accused the author of promoting murder.

In 1974, Burgess wrote the novel Testament of a Clockwork, in which the poet Enderby suffers from the consequences of the film and feels no responsibility. Burgess was offended by the fact that Kubrick paid him only $500 for the right to make the film and removed the last chapter of A Clockwork Orange, the description of which briefly boils down to the fact that Alex repents and is going to start a family. However, the film turned the novel into a bestseller that was translated into many languages around the world.

Other works by Burgess

Orwell's 1984 made a strong impression on Burgess. Although in this book everything is under the absolute control of the state, and citizens become its victims. Readers note in their reviews of the book "A Clockwork Orange" that it resembles this state. Burgess wrote 1985, a book about groups of young freedom fighters fighting a totalitarianby the state and secretly studying Latin, which here plays the same role as Beethoven. This is something beautiful that attracts young people because it is banned.

The film industry received many scripts from Burgess, many of which later turned into novels. Those who worked with the writer recall that one of his most attractive features was that as soon as he threw a thought, the beginnings of the plot immediately appeared. When Kubrick mentioned that it would be nice to make a film about Napoleon, Burgess was delighted and wrote the script "Napoleonic Symphony". The film was never made and the script was later turned into a novel. The script for Jesus of Nazareth also became a novel and was published in France as The Man of Nazareth.

Life is like a symphony

In 1968, Burgess's wife died of cirrhosis of the liver. Then Liana Marchelli, the daughter of an Italian countess, reappeared in his life. They once had a fleeting affair in London. She informed him that he had a four-year-old son named Paolo Andre. Burges was proud to be a father. In the autumn of the same year, she and Liana got married. They lived in M alta for a year, but the house was confiscated by the new government. They hit the road again and stopped in Rome. Inspired by the myth of Oedipus, Burgess wrote the novel MF.

“Writing novels has replaced writing symphonies for me,” said Burgess. But he always wrote music, and towards the end of his life he became famous as the creator of wonderful musicals. So in 1990, a new version of A Clockwork Orange appeared and several operatic librettos,for example, Weber's Oberon, which was staged in Venice.

In 1976, Burgess settled in Monaco and lived there until his death. The writer wrote his autobiography. Burgess's son says he was amazed at how you can remember so many details, dates, addresses, names. The writer died in November 1993 in London. His headstone reads ABBA, Burgess' favorite pun. Abba are the words of Christ spoken by him on the cross. This is a stylized notation of a sonnet rhyme. And if you look at the cover of Burgess's books, these letters are his initials in English - Anthony Burgess.