Review: A Clockwork Orange

A Clockwork Orange
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not perfect, but very good! First of all, potential readers should be warned about the invented “nadsat” slang used by the narrator. The author defines it as a “linguistic adventure”, but for some it might be more of a linguistic nightmare. For me, it was a breeze, as I understand a little bit of Russian, and a lot of that slang consists of anglicised Russian stems; if you’re not so lucky, you will have to face the brain-teaser aspect of the book, trying to decipher the words based on the context (oh well, maybe you could just google them). When you viddy all this govoreeting for yourself, you will either find it real horrorshow or gloopy, depending on whether you’re one of those vecks who are into these things or not. Personally, I kopat it.

The obvious discussion of morality and free will is as old as the world, but presented in a fresh way; While the story was interesting, I always had this feeling that it could be told in a more fluid, smooth and captivating manner. By the way, in my opinion the film achieves that brilliantly, and it’s one of the very few occasions where I think a film might actually be better than the book it was based on. Meanwhile, in the book at some points the narrative felt slow and boring, at others – too fast, jerky and artificial; and although I understand the importance of the last chapter, which Burgess himself stressed in his foreword (the actual change in the character makes the book a real novel rather than a simple fable), it feels way too rushed and misplaced.

All in all, a fascinating message at the core, a nice linguistic brain teaser for a shell, and a vivid creativity that paints a bleak imaginary future make this book a diamond in the rough, but I think it needs some polishing and that it has probably been published in too much of a hurry; that’s the only reason why I wouldn’t give it the full 5 stars, even though I agree it’s a modern classic definitely worth reading.

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