Humpday Food For Thought: Read This Book

I’ve had a couple things rattling around in the ol’ gulliver. One is this book.

Gulliver: a slang term used by the character “Alex” in the book A Clockwork Orange (by Anthony Burgess,) and later a movie by the same title directed by Stanley Kubrick. Russian/Gypsy “NADSAT” teenage vernacular.  (source) 

Yeah, I’m re-reading A Clockwork Orange.  For those of you who never have read Anthony Burgess novel from which Stanley Kubrick’s cult classic film was based, it’s definitely worth the read, if for no other reason than because the end of the movie is not the true end of the story.  The book is written from the point of view of the main character; it wouldn’t be appropriate to necessarily call him a “protagonist” in the traditional sense, because Alex is, at least initially, not a very sympathetic character.  He’s actually a sociopath juvenile delinquent.  Published in 1962, the novel is still surprisingly relevant.  The setting is some future, dingy, dystopic London, where gangs roam the streets with near impunity, especially at night.  Different age groups seem to have different slang, a language all their own almost, and the narrator is no exception.  While the seeming overabundance of essentially made up words is a bit overwhelming at first (there’s actually a glossary of Nadsat language included in the back of my copy of the book,) the reader eventually gets used to seeing certain terms repeated, and the definition of other Nadsat words may be gleaned from the context in which they’re used.  I think the use of this “language” is part of the reason for the book’s timelessness.  The fictional slang often takes the place of words that might otherwise date the material more.

The novel has three main parts, the first of which opens on Alex and his gang’s path of drugging, rape, and violence on a typical (for them) night in the city.  Supposedly inspired by actual events of violence and juvenile delinquency experienced by the author and his family, the novel is a scathing (and still very relevant) political text on the condition of youth violence and the idea of free will, with harrowing consequences.

Anyway…all of this amounts to… it’s a hell of a book and you should read it.

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11 responses to “Humpday Food For Thought: Read This Book

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