from my bookshelf: a clockwork orange by anthony burgess


a clockwork orange is partially written in a secret language called “nadsat.” the main character and narrator is a troubled teenaged boy named alex; he tells stories about terrifying rampages he goes on with his gang; they terrorize everyone who comes in their way. eventually, government authorities get control of alex and try to force the violence out of him to make him a productive and safe member of society. alex is convicted of murder after a particularly dark night of criminal activity with his friends. as part of his jail sentence, alex is subject to the “ludovico technique” where he is injected with nausea-inducing drugs and then forced to watch extremely violent films, conditioning him to get sick at the thought of violence. a clockwork orange nudges readers to consider, among other things, the cycle of violence, the influence that friends have on one another, and the impossibility (or, maybe, possibility), of people changing who they (seem to be) to their core.


“What does God want? Does God want goodness or the choice of goodness? Is a man who chooses the bad perhaps in some way better than a man who has the good imposed upon him?”

“‘He has no real choice, has he? Self interest, fear of physical pain, drove him to that grotesque act of self-abasement. Its insincerity was clearly to be seen. He ceases to be a wrongdoer. He ceases also to be a creature capable of moral choice.’ ‘These are subtleties,’ like smiled Dr Brodsky. ‘We are not concerned with motive, with the higher ethics. We are concerned only with cutting down crime–‘”

“‘…A man who cannot choose cease to be a man.'”

“‘Some of us have to fight. There are great traditions of liberty to defend. I am no partisan man. Where I see the infamy I seek to erase it. Party names mean nothing. The tradition of liberty means all. The common people will let it go, oh yes. They will sell liberty for a quieter life. That is why they must be prodded, prodded–‘”

“Youth must go, ah yes. But youth is only being in a way like it might be an animal. No, it is not just like being an animal so much as being like one of those malenky toys you viddy being sold in the streets, like little chellovecks made out of tin and with a spring inside and then a winding handle on the outside and you wind it up grrr grrr grrr and off it itties, like walking, O my brothers. But it itties in a straight line and bangs straight into things bang bang and it cannot help what it is doing. Being young is like being like one of these malenky machines.”

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