A Clockwork Orange
Posted by: Gary Niebuhr
On occasion it can be rather depressing to think that we are making no progress in solving any problems in society. For me as a reader, this was driven home when I realized that A Clockwork Orange was written in 1962. The same terrible issues raised when Anthony Burgess wrote this novel could be debated today.
However, one of the most powerful aspects of this novel is that the method used to “solve” the issues that the book raises may be worse than the problem. The dynamic issue raised in the novel is emphasized in this quote: “Is a man who chooses the bad perhaps in some way better than a man who has the good imposed upon him?”
For those who have not read the novel or seen the great Stanley Kubrick film, the novel is divided into roughly two parts. Narrated in the first person by a punk named Alex, the first part details the crimes carried out by him and his droogies Pete, Georgie and Dim. The second portion of the book is the recounting of society’s attempt to incarcerate, rehabilitate and politicize the life and crimes of our humble narrator, Alex. Told with an enormous dose of irony, the author present the tale in a created language that combines teen slang, baby talk and words borrowed from the Russian language.
Book groups will find this work compelling to discuss. While its use of language is a challenge, the effort will produce numerous questions for the group to debate.