As ever, thanks to Blogs of a Bookaholic for creating this challenge.
Goodness I’m sleepy but can’t bring myself to get into bed yet as I feel as though I’ve not achieved anything today. A sad state of affairs that I hope to rectify by blogging. As you’d expect, a post about A Clockwork Orange comes with a trigger warning.
Well, my little droogie friends, this takes me back to my teen years and one of the most disturbing but brilliant books I’ve ever read: A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess. The post-’86 version with a 22nd chapter, that is. Even now I have more thoughts and questions about the issues raised in the novel than answers.
So what about this dark, gratuitously violent dystopian world is thought-provoking? Well the horror of the droogs’ violence (and later the government’s as they ‘treat’ Alex) made me wonder about which type of violence is ultimately more terrifying: that of gangs or of a state’s. I felt that A Clockwork Orange explored the necessity of free will and freedom of choice humans need in order to feel human. What methods should a government be allowed to use in order to ‘control’ criminals?
Does choosing to persistently be violent mean that one forfeits one’s right to non-violent and fair treatment later? My initial instinct is to say that the law and those who endeavour to abide by it, should be above violence. That we should avoid to continue that cycle of it and aim to eliminate it.
Yet after the violence of the first 7 chapters, in which among other things, the droogs beat up a man, rape a woman and two 10-year olds (in the former case, she died of injuries caused by the gang-rape, in the latter cases they were injected with drugs beforehand), it’s impossible not to have a gut response to those actions, and not want to wish them pain, however brief, in the hope that they’ll stop hurting others.
But then hurting people sounds like a horrible thing to do and would surely mean that their violence would only beget more violence.
It made me wonder about redemption- is it possible to change one’s character and to live a ‘full life’ with the shadow of one’s earlier actions looming behind a curtain somewhere?
One final (slightly happier and slightly less thought-provoking) aspect of the novel was the droogs’ slang, Nadsat. Language can date pretty darn quickly and can put me off an otherwise awesome novel when I’m reading for pleasure. Burgess felt that slang was pretty important in languages and so it’s interesting to work out how he created slang that I felt worked really well within the novel- Russian, the main language it was based on added extra associations with a certain totalitarian state that was kicking around at the time of the book’s publication- and that still feels alive enough when read.