Mackenzie PatelHello world travelers! I just finished A Clockwork Orange, and I must admit, I was profoundly disturbed while reading it. I thought Lolita was unsettling to the point of full-blown pedophiliac weirdness, but this novel took crazy to a whole new level. Basically, it told the story of a young man’s journey through crime, jail, an experimental trial meant to change his violent behavior, and his introduction into the real world once more. It was astounding how the main character, Alex, thrived off brutality and how his demeanor was forcibly changed by the authoritarian government. The kicker was that his actual personality did not falter—it was just his gut-wrenching physical reactions to scenes of violence that caused him to grovel at people’s feet with forced humility. Although Alex was a monster, a “gnawing, biting, breaking, hacking, burning” one at that, he was still perversely enamored with classical music. The great Ludwig van and Mozart were mentioned more than one time. What a dichotomy his life presented! For example, he raped little girls and married women with the “old in out in out,” but the same night, he enjoyed an ecstatic moment by himself listening to symphonies. I was in two minds the whole time on whether I liked the character of Alex or not. On one hand, I was empathetic towards him because he was a product of his violent and sadistic environment; on the other, he never felt any remorse and was an oily vagabond with a cruel streak. The last chapter in the whole novel (chapter seven of part three) has always been shrouded in controversy because it was not originally published in the American version of the novel. Without that last chapter, the fate of Alex is unknown, and most people would just assume he roams into the realm of crime once more. However, Burgess adds an element of redemption and character remorse at the end—again, such dichotomies! One last note about the novel—the vocabulary in it was mere gibberish and unlike anything I have ever read before. It was an uphill trek trying to decipher some of the made-up words, but after the third chapter, I was able to swallow the chaotic sentences with little trouble. For example, “gulliver” meant “head,” “viddy” meant to see or believe, and “tolchock” meant to hit or knock about. “Krovvy” was synonymous for “blood.” At least those words were in the heighth of fashion. Below are some musical works that were mentioned elegantly by Burgess!
- Jupiter by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
- Symphony No. 9 “Choral” by Ludwig van Beethoven
- Symphony No. 9 by Ludwig van Beethoven
- Symphony No. 2 by Adrian Schweigselber
- Wachet Auf Choral Prelude by J. S. Bach
- Symphony No. 40 in G Minor by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
- Symphony No. 38 “Prague” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
- Symphony No. 3 by Otto Skadelig
- Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture by Felix Mendelssohn
Did I miss any works? Overall, I would recommend this book just for its revolutionary style and moral implications. The job of any great novel is to force the reader to question life and their very existence for a few days. Whether it’s being mentally stuck in Middle Earth, Diagon Alley, or the mind of a privileged teenage boy wondering the streets of NYC, the reader is temporarily lost in the lives of fictional characters. A Clockwork Orange is no exception.
So what’s it going to be then, eh?