Wednesday, 29 October 2008

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

I knew this was written in an invented slang (which apparently includes words from Russian and from Cockney rhyming slang). I worried if it would be too difficult to read but it doesn't take long to get into the way of it, helped by the author who usually places words in context or even gives their meaning, and of course the words are used repeatedly. You can tell quite easily, for example, that Alex's droogs are his mates.

Alex is the anti-hero of the work. His morals are lower than a snake's belly, and the violence he uncaringly perpetrates is quite sickening. He is also the architect of his own downfall, in a classic case of hubris. You do start to feel sorry for him though as he is used and abused by the authorities. In a redeeming feature, he declaims in a cool Shakespearean style and is also rather witty! He is plainly more intelligent than his droogs, but sadly for him, not as intelligent as he thinks he is.

This is another one of those books where you wonder what really happened next. It's a classic which is well worth reading not so much for its vision of a dystopian future but simply as a really good story.