A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess, is one of the most experimental, original, and controversial novels of the twentieth century. It is both a compelling work of literature and an in-depth study in linguistics. The novel is a satirical, frightening science fiction piece, not unlike others of this century such as George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four or Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. However, the conflicts and resolutions in A Clockwork Orange are more philosophical than social, and its message is far more urgent.
A Clockwork Orange is made up of three parts containing 21 chapters, 21 being the official age of human maturity. It is a stream-of-consciousness novel about, most fundamentally, the freedom of people to choose. It asks readers if personal freedom is a justifiable sacrifice for comfort and social stability. This theme umbrellas many others, including the struggle between the governors and the governed and the age-old struggle between good and evil. A Clockwork Orange also incorporates the themes of youth versus old age and illusion versus reality.
Burgess, both a writer and an established linguist, uses A Clockwork Orange as a vessel for some very mature exploration of languages and literary play-things. Burgess fuses together many different languages in A Clockwork Orange to create Nadsat, the language of the youth. Nadsat is made up mainly of Russian, child speak, and invented and British slang, but it also utilizes Malay, German, French, Arabic, and Gypsy. The word Nadsat comes from the Russian word nadsat, a suffix for the numbers 11 through 19--the teenage numbers (Lund). The title A Clockwork Orange is derived from several sources. ...
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...uturistic tale of violence and reformation. Our subconscious mind wants to give Alex the freedom to kill and rape, while our conscious mind understands society's need for well-behaved citizens. A Clockwork Orange speaks to the philosopher, the theologist, and the psychologist in all of us, and its message becomes more relevant with each new year.
Bash, Kris. "Critical Discussions." Accessed last on May 8, 1997.
Burgess, Anthony. 1985. London: Hutchinson & Co., 1994. Accessed last on May 5, 1997.
---. A Clockwork Orange. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1962.
---. Foreword: "A Clockwork Orange Resucked." A Clockwork Orange. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1962. v-xi.
Lund, Christian. "Nadsat wordlist." Accessed last on May 7, 1997.
Utting, Bruce. "Common themes of A Clockwork Orange." Accessed last on May 4, 1997.
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