A CLOCKWORK ORANGE by Anthony Burgess


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Note from Kirkus' Vintage Review Editor:

Anthony Burgess' disturbing, insightful A Clockwork Orange, published more than 50 years ago, still has a hold on us and on young writers (see Jenni Fagan's 2013 debut novel The Panopticon, for example). In 1962, our reviewer noted the fortitude required to read the novel (and, we can now add, watch the film): "What happens to Alex is terrible but it is worse for the reader."


The previous books of this author (Devil of a State, 1962; The Right to an Answer, 1961) had valid points of satire, some humor, and a contemporary view, but here the picture is all out—from a time in the future to an argot that makes such demands on the reader that no one could care less after the first two pages.

If anyone geta beyond that—this is the first person story of Alex, a teen-age hoodlum, who, in step with his times, viddies himself and the world around him without a care for law, decency, honesty; whose autobiographical language has droogies to follow his orders, wallow in his hate and murder moods, accents the vonof human hole products. Betrayed by his dictatorial demands by a policing of his violence, he is committed when an old lady dies after an attack; he kills again in prison; he submits to a new method that will destroy his criminal impulses; blameless, he is returned to a world that visits immediate retribution on him; he is, when an accidental propulsion to death does not destroy him, foisted upon society once more in his original state of sin.

What happens to Alex is terrible but it is worse for the reader.
Pub Date: Jan. 8th, 1962
ISBN: 0393928098
Page count: 357pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1962


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