Review of A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

First read: Before the list came out (1984)
Reviewed on: 8/16/98
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I did not like it.
I liked it.
I thought it one of the Best Novels of All Time

I read this because I liked the movie. The copy I bought didn't have the last chapter in it. (The first edition that came out in this country was missing the last chapter, because the American publisher didn't like it, or something like that.) So when I read the real last chapter, where the protagonist decides its time to settle down and get married, it was like I was reading a sequel.

This is an interesting book because it couldn't have come out today. The narrator is a misogynistic rapist, and for the story to work you are supposed to feel sympathetic with him. Because its well written, I did feel that sympathy, but it is hard to admit it. I'm supposed to say, "The heinousness of the protagonists crime make it impossible for us to feel sorrow for his situation after he is released from the behavior modification." But I do feel bad that he's released out on the streets without the survival skills necessary to live in the world that he does.

But then again, maybe if we don't look at what happens to him as "failed rehabilitation," but instead as "successful punishment," we can give the whole tome a different spin. Maybe its good that our "Humble Narrator" was forced to endure being bullied about and beaten as he's bullied about and beaten others. Looked upon that way, one can enjoy the story without fear of being labeled "sexist."

If I seem to harp upon the "political correctness" angle, its because I saw this movie with my fiancee Jennifer and her friend Linda, after I had recommended it. I was 21, and it was a movie that I'd seen before and liked. They didn't make it all the way through. Then, on the walk home, I had to pretend that I hadn't liked it that much either, and had suggested that we see it because of its historical significance. Nowadays I wouldn't be afraid to speak my mind, but I had been young and in love.

There was a glossary in the back of my edition, which I thought was gratuitous and a bit condescending. All the horrorshow words were understandable by context, and if you viddied a word you couldn't figure out, the story was perfectly readable without it.

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