In this 1962 classic, a novelistic exploration of modern crime and punishment, Alex is the 15-year-old leader of his gang of "droogs" thriving in the ultraviolent future, as prophetically imagined by Burgess. Speaking a bizarre Russian-derived slang, Alex and his friends freely pillage and slash their way across a nightmarish urban landscape until Alex is captured by the judicial arm of the state. He then becomes their prized guinea pig in a scientific program to completely "redeem" him for society.
If we had the power of absolute criminal reform, what, the novel asks, would this mean for our ideals of freedom and society? This edition reinstates the final chapter missing from Kubrick's film, in which Alex is on the verge of starting a family as he reflects on - and completely rejects - his adolescent nastiness. It also includes Burgess's introduction "A Clockwork Orange Resucked".
©1962 The Estate of Anthony Burgess (P)2010 Random House Audiobooks
Eclectic mixer of books of my youth and ones I always meant to read, but didn't.
It isn't always easy to listen to a book that predicted the future which such harsh judgment based upon the developing truth of its own times. "Clockwork" is just such a book. But, I am gratified to say that, it is so much easier to listen to than it was for me to read thirty years ago.
I feel some empathy for the book because it has resonance with my life. It was published the year I was born and it must have been as startling to readers as my first breath was to me. In fact, it must have been a shock. Burgess' tale of what now we might euphemistically call a "dysfunctional" boy, 15 year old Alex, is immediately recognisable. He is a hooligan amongst the common hooligan's we read of nearly every day, the violence that we see on our screens (fictional and fact) and on the streets of our urban jungles. His story (particularly his political manipulation) remains vividly and shockingly relevant 50 years on.
I was intrigued by the Foreword by the author and by the priceless reading by him of three chapters from the original 21 a decade or more ago. Amazing too was the discovery that until this edition was released in the US, only the first 20 chapters had been included in that country (which totally makes for a different book). Still more astounding was it to read that, on his death, he still lamented that he was best know for this dystopian work. At least he seems to have in part accepted that in some way he influenced people because of it (albeit that this must have been a difficult think for him to accept).
It remains to say something about the audio skills of the extremely talented Tom Hollander. It speaks volume for his skills that not once did I picture his well known and angelic face. Strangely, from time to time I though of Jude Law with a shaved scone or a young Michael Caine (the latter lest surprising given the unique cockney, come eastern bloc lingo that passes as communication among this sub-human crew).
The violence is vivid and in your face, so this isn't for everyone. However, if you are looking for a thoroughly entertaining listen with a moral underscore, you won't be disappointed with this production.
The excellent narration and my low attention span made it a more accessible experience and therefore a more enjoyable experience when compared to reading the print version. When I read this book, I struggled to come to terms with the made up words Alex and his Droogs use to the point where they interfered with my comprehension of the narrative. However, the cadence and rhythm of the narrator was pure perfection that permitted the slang terminology to echo the mood as it vanished into the overall atmosphere of the tale.
Both books explore the hidden world of gratuitous violence that lie beneath the thin veneer of our pseudo-caring attitudes in western culture.
I had seen the film, and was interested to understand what the book was actually saying. As it turned out, it was saying a lot more than the film. I had not known that the American edition of the book - the edition adapted for film - had omitted the 21st and last chapter, essentially undermining some aspects of the books message. Stanley Kubrick cynically claimed that he had not read the last chapter until he was applying the finishing touches to the editing of the film, but I think it is more likely that by omitting this last chapter, he made the films conclusion more edgy and attractive to audiences. I thought the film was disturbingly good, but would advise people to listen to this audio version of the book. It has an interesting introduction by Anthony Burgess where he voices his disappointment that this is the one work he will truly be remembered for amongst a host of ones he regards as better and he explains how the 21st chapter was lost in the US edition. He also explains what 'A Clockwork Orange' actually is, which alas I had not really understood from the film - very interesting.
Well read by the narrator and a pleasure to listen to. A superb book that has not aged, but only become more relevant.
Having always loved the book and like many other "classics" had it sitting on my book shelf for many years I bought the audiobook with the intention of reading the book.
The introduction by the author sets the stall out clearly. This book is different than the film. In fact the ending is so different that it gives a completely different perspective on what it means to be a "Clockwork orange".
A fantastic read and definitely worth purchasing! Amazing.
"A classic for all"
The book begins with an introduction to the book by Anthony Burgess that sets the scene and the importance of the book in this current audio form. It becomes apparent immediately that he resented the creation of the film based on the American edition of the book which leaves out what for him is the essential 13th chapter.
As such I felt a difficult challenge. A desire to side with the author despite rating the film as one of my all time favorites and allow myself to reinterpret the story to tie in with the original intention.
Thankfully I was not disappointed. The language of the book, Natsat, is delivered expertly by the narrator and his excellent vocal illuminates the inner workings of Alex's mind in a way that despite Alex's simply vicious nature you cannot help grow to love him.
A true classic and an excellent audiobook, which should, like for me, help you understand once and for all what it means to be a 'clockwork orange' and how, only through our own volition, we can escape it.
"Wow, a real horror show of a book!"
Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant!!
Wasn't sure what to expect from this book. Knew I'd either love it or hate it.
I loved it!
Very masterfully written, a work of sheer brilliance. The 'nadsat' language just works so well. As an added bonus, should you need one, narrator is absolutely spot on.
Hard to believe this was written over 50 years ago!
Cannot recommend it highly enough, definately the best audiobook I've listened to in a long time!!
"Hard to absorb it without thinking of the film"
haven't read the book
The book is famous for its displays of graphic violence yet the majority of the book focuses on the moral aspects of controlling someone's free will, despite the individual being a criminal likely to cause more violence.
Interesting to listen to the original book as the film is so famous with so many connotations connected.What is particularly interesting is the reading by Anthony Burgess himself at the end. The characters in the film and the narrator Tom Hollander portray our humble narrator as resident of London with a slight cockney twang - yet Burgesses voice is a thick northern gruff. Burgess himself expresses this isn't one of his finest novels and had found fame from the movie. I could go on to identify some areas where there is a lack of imagination in the development of the story (for example meeting exactly the same characters from before prison, when out of prison) but I feel here the end is what matters, not so much the means of getting there.It is far from a perfect novel, but does bring some interesting aspects on the moral implications of conditioning.
"Skip first half of first chapter!"
Great performance, really brings burgess's language to life! However, why bundle the first chapter into an essay written by burgess contemplating his story and discussing what happens in the plot, most particularly the final chapter?
Even for people who have seen the film, this reveals rather too much ahead of time.
"The "who ha". I think I get it know."
It's been like reading a foreign language book, that after a while you " be get" to understand - Bazaar. This book has been in the background of my years of life and I eventually got around to reading it. What a read. I now understand why there was /is so much hype. More questions are being asked than answered. For me the story has a parallel with Trainspotting. The language, drugs and violence all apparent, but also the youth. I now need to catch the film of this book to understand how they ended the film. Since they missed the last chapter. Also I never knew Antony was from "up North".
"so good, with an extra aswell"
from the start prologue which is funny to Tom hollander carving out the story and the end extra of burgess himself reading three chapters. this is a 'must listen' audiobook.
Great story brought to vivid life by spiky first person narration reminiscent of Kubrick's character for those who loved the film version.
A unique story way ahead of it's time and the droogy slang works particularly well in an audio book version.
Though initially this book needs quite a level of concentration due to the language spoken. Once you have mastered that, it was brilliant. A well written book, with strong storyline and moral to the story to boot. A must read.
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