A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess is a engaging, disturbing, and thought provoking book that was first published in 1962. This is a powerful piece of literature today as it was back then.
A Clockwork Orange satirizes extreme political systems that are based on opposing models of the perfectibility or incorrigibility of humanity. Written in a futuristic vocabulary invented by Burgess, in part by adaptation of Russian words, it was his most original and best-known work.
Set in a dismal dystopia, it is the first-person narrative of Alex, the protagonist, who has a passion for classical music and is a member of a vicious teenage gang that commits random acts of brutality. Alex is almost innocently committing violent crimes with his friends for he is not trying to be bad, he just is. He likes violence, and that’s the way he is.
Alex’s gang has a mutiny and sets a stage for him to be arrested by the police, Alex is sentenced to 14 years in prison. But then the opportunity to change presents itself to Alex – in the form of state-sponsored psychological rehabilitation for his aberrant behavior involving mind altering visual therapy with audio background of his favorite Beethoven (EGAD!) and he can’t help but take the offer. How could it be?
Alex is transformed through the behavioral conditioning into a model citizen, but his taming also leaves him defenseless and incapable of listening to classical music or performing acts of violence…
A Clock work orange first came out in the 60s, and the American version lacked the last and 21st chapter from the original story. When it was republished, the book had the 21st chapter. With the last chapter or without it, the book will have an entirely different feel to it. The old copy represents the horrible realization that bad minds are always bad and then the newer version (improved American edition?) leaves the reader with hope.
Hope for Alex, and hope for oneself. Change is possible, the book says, no matter what sort of person you are.
Is being good truly good if it is not by choice? Is it good to be bad, if that is what one chooses?
A Clockwork Orange is truly a great work, one that will appeal to people for different reasons and affect them in completely different ways. But it will affect them. A must read for any thinking mind.