Saturday Read: A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

I’m sure most of you have heard of the Stanley Kurbick classic cult film A Clockwork Orange, but I bet you didn’t know that the movie is actually based on a book of the same name! And that this book happens to be a million times better than the movie!

The movie follows the novel quite loyally, so if you’ve seen the film, don’t expect any surprises as far as plot goes in the book. But don’t worry; it’s not a waste of time to read if you’ve seen the movie! You don’t read A Clockwork Orange for the plot or even the story; you read it for the experience. Now, this requires a bit of explanation.

This book is written mostly in English, but a good majority of it is written in a slang that Burgess created called Nadsat. Derived from Russian, a lot of common English words are replaced with their Nadsat counterparts (ex. viddy = to watch, horrorshow = good, devotcha = girl). At first, this part of the book is confusing and many readers find themselves overwhelmed and give up. That’s understandable, as one literally needs a Nadsat dictionary (included in the back with most editions of the novel) to even make sense of the sentences. But that’s the fun of reading this book! It’s an experience.

As you progress further, you find yourself needing the dictionary less and less. You start to learn the language! This learning experience also echoes themes and events in the book, which I find make it even more interesting.

The novel is essentially about an English boy, Alex, who, with his gang, commits horrible crimes all over his city and feels absolutely no remorse. One night, they commit a particularly horrible act (which actually happened to Burgess’ wife – this is depicted quite graphically in the movie) and Alex is caught. He is sent to prison and given an option: if he undergoes a new, experimental treatment, he will be released much sooner than if he serves his sentence out. He opts for the experimental treatment and the novel chronicles this and his experiences once he is released.

A Clockwork Orange is a fantastic book, with not only an interesting story, but a unique experience! If you’re looking for a book that is more than just entertaining – one that gets you to think too – then A Clockwork Orange is a great choice.

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