A room without a book is like a body without a soul - Cicero

To Be Read Soon!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Completely Classic: A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

Completely Classic is a feature (started here!) that discusses Modern and other Classic literature.

 In this nightmare vision of a not-too-distant future, fifteen-year-old Alex and his three friends rob, rape, torture and murder - for fun. Alex is jailed for his vicious crimes and the State undertakes to reform him - but how and at what cost?

                                                                                       -Chapters Canada

I've been wanting to read some Classics recently, and when a friend of mine brought this book for me to borrow, I knew it was time to commence my reading of classic literature.

This book, a Modern Classic, is dystopian, which I always love, and is written in 1962. This made for a very interesting read since it's written about the future, ergo our past and/or present. Some of the things were pretty accurate, and some things were pretty off, and strange. Like the language. Wow. Am I ever glad that I read the introduction before reading the book, because I had no idea that the language was at all anything special, and it TOTALLY was. The language in A Clockwork Orange is completely unique and not in any way English. Which was pretty confusing at first, but, after I got the hang of it, was completely cool. I found it fascinating how quickly I could incorporate Alex's slang words into my vocabulary and understand every word that he said. I am really looking forward to seeing the movie, and to see how Alex and his crazy language translates into film! 

It's a movie!
Spoiler Alert: Don't read past this point if you don't want to know specific book details!

So a little bit about the book: Alex is pretty much a psychopath, and that becomes quite evident early on. Burgess gives us such a vivid look into Alex's psyche that I felt like I understood him right off the bat. In the society in which Alex lives, not only do the youth speak using their own slang language, they are completely without morals. Alex and his 'droogs' (friends) go around stealing 'pretty polly' (money), raping women, and beating up whomever they please (usually 'starry' people, which refers to anyone elderly).

The book is written in three parts, 7 chapters each, and all start out with the same clever phrase, "What's it gonna be then, eh?" I found this really clever and I loved how Burgess divided the novel so interstingly. In the first part we are introduced to Alex and his 'droogs' and all of their crazy antics. We also see some of Alex's wisdom despite the fact that he seems lost to the world and humanity. Some of the things that he says were just so wise and smart, and made me love him against all the odds :)  Throughout the rest of the novel, Alex goes through many changes, going to jail, and enduring crazy torturous treatment that makes it so that he literally cannot commit violence. And even though I feel like this is supposed to be the main theme or idea in the novel, I really just took away my own message from it. Because when all was said and done, I saw Alex in part three, who finally choose to not do wrong and actually wanted to find love and family, as just a normal dude. This just kind of reminded me of how teens are nowadays (obviously not as drastically rebellious) and how society views them to be menaces. But really, we all grow up and learn from our mistakes (obviously there are some exceptions), and I think that is what Burgess demonstrates through Alex. Even if it was a little scary to read.

I have to also say that it completely broke my heart when Alex was brought back to 'HOME' in part 3, after his previous friends had raped him and beat him up, and he discovers the old man willing to help him, only to find that he, Alex himself, had killed the man's wife. It really made me sad, more than anything else in the book. And I could tell that Alex was saddened by it, which is maybe the first time I thought that he could turn out alright. It was so ironic and beautiful, and probably my favourite part of the whole story.

Overall, I think that A Clockwork Orange is a timeless piece of fiction that anyone can enjoy, whether young or 'starry'.

Tehe-Cheers & Enjoy♥

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