The Unresolvable Tension of ‘A Clockwork Orange’

Posted: October 25, 2011 by jerkmag in VAULT -- archives
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A horrorshow in every aspect–“A Clockwork Orange” by Anthony Burgess

Excessive slang in a book normally turns me away. I dare you to try reading “The Adventures of Huckaberry Finn.” However, the satirical and dark story of the institutionalization of Alex in “A Clockwork Orange” makes the made-up “Nadsat” language interesting to decipher.

Alex is 15 years old when the book begins. A leader of a gang of “droogs,” they live their lives breaking into houses, getting into fights and being badasses. Of course, Alex gets caught by the police. In order for him to avoid his sentence, he undergoes an experiment that will, hopefully, allow him to return to society “cured.”

If you can get past the slang, then “A Clockwork Orange” will present you with one of the most innovative and original works of fiction in the 20th century. Burgess’ ability to completely get into the head of a delinquent youth is astounding and has not lost any of its original freshness. Even in the age when we are bombarded with news of wars and Snookie cat fights, the descriptions of “ultraviolence” in the novel is still very unsettling and disturbing.

One of the book’s main themes is a reform of those whom society deems “unfit,” and the ethics of the use of behavioral conditioning as a form of rehabilitation. This is what the title of the book refers to: clockwork orange is an unnatural combination of mechanical clockwork and a soft, living organism. The contradiction between these two opposing forces creates unresolvable tension that can only end in a disaster.

Oh, and the movie version…well let’s say that it didn’t really censor anything at all. 

-Vania Myers

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