A Clockwork Orange is a frightening fable about good and evil, and the meaning of human freedom. When the state undertakes to reform Alex to "redeem" him, the novel asks, "At what cost?"
This edition includes the controversial last chapter not published in the first edition, as well as Burgess' introduction, "A Clockwork Orange Resucked".
©1962, 1986 The Estate of Anthony Burgess; (P)2007 HarperCollins Publishers
"I do not know of any other writer who has done as much with language as Mr. Burgess has done here - the fact that this is also a very funny book may pass unnoticed." (William S. Burroughs)
On the surface, A Clockwork Orange is a depiction of an apalling young man who commits a variety of violent acts and the government's attempts to redeem him. On a deeper level, it is also a social commentary on youth violence, psychiatry, morality, and other social issues (this is much more apparent in the book than it is in the film). It alternates between being humorous, shocking, and thought-provoking. Overall it is an amazing book, and the narration is phenomenal.
However, this book employs some rather extreme violence, (e.g., the raping of young girls, the beating of an old man) to convey its messages. If you think this might be a problem for you, then you should probably not purchase this audiobook.
Also, the book employs a great deal of slang, called Nadsat. It makes the story a bit difficult to comprehend at first, but you get used to it before long. The narrator also does a wonderful job with it (pausing in all the right places, etc.), and makes it much more comprehensible. I thought it added humor to the story and made it more enjoyable, but other listeners may find it to be overwhelming.
No matter whether you've seen the Stanley Kubrick movie, or read the book - "Clockwork Orange" demands the spoken word, especially all the bits of British accents but also a made-up language and a very neat "voice" for "little Alex" (the Malcolm McDowell character in the iconic picture, bowler hat, eye makeup and stiletto).
This audio book adds-back the last chapter, deleted from the US book and the film. Burgess explains his logic, while admitting the reasons why we may agree with the US editor (I agree with Burgess, myself, but then I'd been utterly unaware of the question).
Burgess personally speaks an introduction, and at the end, reads aloud 3 critical chapters, adding surprising depth to the minor characters even as you can feel his identification with little Alex.
There is substance here, though it works neatly just as "ultra-violence" with minimal human depth.
With the added arc of character, and Burgess reading key bits of little Alex narrating, and even adding some of the capital-R Romantic classical music that's interwoven with ultra-violence in little Alex's soul, "voice" seems the best word for the way Burgess uses linguistic razzle-dazzle to get us all inside little Alex.
A note on "ultra-violence," especially the graphic rapes clearly motivated more by violent hatred than anything like merely erotic desire. The plot and Alex's arc are about free will, good and evil, and may even work as an odd Christian apologetic. The violence is central and deeply thought-out, about as far from gratuitous exploitation as I can imagine.
Still and all, the violence is horrible, terrible and even a bit nauseating - but then that's what makes "evil" a meaninful word, yes?
I read this in high school, and I was initially concerned that the "language" would be difficult to understand in audio form.
No worries! The reader is PERFECT for this book. He reads with a Cockney accent that is very entertaining for this subject matter. The story itself is ultra-violent, the first person account of a violent criminal describing his horrible misdeeds in a colorful slang dialect. The main character refers himself as "your most humble narrator" and to the reader as "oh my brothers", both of which come off perfectly in the Cockney accent of the reader.
Think: Michael Caine relating the events of the movie "Pulp Fiction" in the first person. I loved it.
A warning though: the main character, with whom we are to sympathize, is a despicable character. If you don't like extreme violence, this is not for you. But it's almost a comic-book type of violence (again, think Pulp Fiction) and there are parts that are really laugh-out-loud funny.
Also, if you don't like Cockney accent, you won't like this.
The slang dialect turned out to be no problem at all for me. There are times when you might not get every word, but you get enough to understand what's going on, and after a while you really start to learn the lingo.
From the author's introduction explaining the lack of chapter 21 in the American publication and the film, to the outstanding narration, this is one of the most riveting audio books I have heard. I could not wait to get back to the car to finish, so walked around with the MP3 in my ear to finish it more quickly.
Less bizarre than the classic film, the narration of the book is much more humorous, more thoughtful, and the neologisms are much more prominant and clever.
Literature teacher and sci-fi/fantasy fan
I experienced Stanley Kubrick's film A CLOCKWORK ORANGE as a precocious 12 year old at my big brother's apartment. I never listened to Beethoven the same way again! This novel remains one of my favorites since reading the actual piece of literature as an adult. Burgess creates a colloquial slang for futuristic JD's that just lends itself to being heard. Mr. Hollander's performance was perfectly executed with all of the quasi-Polish slang. I found myself taking notes on particular words. The loss of a "glossary" in this audiobook does not mar the perfection of the production. Lastly, the final chapter -- that was edited out of American editions of the novel and not even mentioned in the Kubrick film -- gives the novel a poignancy and depth that is otherwise lost in ultra-violence and sex. This novel is NOT for that precocious 12 year old who watched the film. It is, however, for readers who want to be transported to a dystopian world where violence and sex have psychological implications far beyond their victims.
Great story. Very engaging to listen to the misdeeds of the main character and the consequences of his actions. But so depressing if you take it to heart - regardless of the final chapter which plops a cherry of hope on the steaming pile of dung that is human nature.
Great narration. And an encore of a small piece of the book at the end - i believe by the writer? Ironically my copy of this audio book had a 'get kids into reading' message on it. I sincerely hope no young children get ahold of this piece.
Better than the movie
Tom Hollander's use of the language of the book and accents was brilliant and really brought the story to life.
It is hard to feel sorry for Alex the little crim, I felt for sorry for his helpless old victims and was looking forward to his comeupence per the movie. Even better described in the book.
Having only seen the movie, the book with the last chapter included (left out of the movie) helped round the story out so much better.
I have been listening to audiobooks for years, and simply stated, this is perhaps my favorite listen of all time. It's exciting, thrilling, emotional, and beautiful.
I have never seen the movie, and now i never want to because i dont want anything to take away from this amazing book.
And perhaps just as good as the actual book is the narration and presentation. The whole production was superb. Highly recommended!
It's been several years since I read this book in both forms (U.S. and U.K. versions). Listening to this audiobook brings back memories of why I love it so much.
To begin with, it is incredibly well written, and of course is an excellent story... I consider this a must read. Our humble narrator (Tom Hollander) is absolutely perfect as Alex! His accent is perfect, and he does the other voices well, too. The way he blends the definitions of the made-up teen slang (Nadsat) is natural rather than disruptive. I don't think there could be a better narrator for this book. He roped me in and mesmerized me. I couldn't put my iPod down until it was finished (and I've read both versions of the book many times).
If you haven't read the book but have seen the movie, you should get this audiobook. The last chapter, omitted from the movie and the book's original U.S. release and for many years of reprints after, changes the book into a wonderful work of literature.
I loved this book and the movie as well but I found the ending odd. To me if felt like (And this could easily be considered a spoiler so stop reading if you don't want to know a very small portion of the story) the writer was trying to end it with some kind of notion that raping/killing/and stealing was just part of being a teenage. That aside it was a great book.
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