OCCUPYING ONESELF | A CLOCKWORK ORANGE
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, Blake Morrison (Introduction),
Paperback, 141 pages, Published 2000 by Penguin Classics (first published 1962)
Told by the central character, Alex, this brilliant, hilarious, and disturbing novel creates an alarming futuristic vision of violence, high technology, and authoritarianism. Anthony Burgess' 1962 classic stands alongside Orwell's 1984 and Huxley's Brave New World as a classic of twentieth-century post-industrial alienation, often shocking us into a thoughtful exploration of the meaning of free will and the conflict between good and evil.
S5: E16 Its Spring Break at Yale and Rory has a job taking inventory at Stars Hollow Books for additional cash, skint from college life. Lane brings her lunch from Luke's while they discuss their night's plans and the ongoings around town. There are three stacked copies of A Clockwork Orange behind Lane's chair.
S5: E16 Lane later returns to the bookstore to rehash her date with Zack from the night before. Rory and Lane are on the floor in an aisle surrounded by the bookshop's inventory. There are the same three copies of A Clockwork Orange on the floor, assumingly as part of Rory's inventory compilation, while the girls compare their love lives.
Being that there isn't an actual mention of A Clockwork Orange on Gilmore Girls, we can assume that the book is placed beside Rory in the bookstore allegorically, but perhaps more likely by happenstance as a popular classic title. However, let's roll with it as a metaphor.
Rory has just started a fling with hot-shot Logan Huntzberger, a man who revels in the type of hedonism privilege to solely the elite. In juxtaposition to the debauchery committed by Alex and his droogs in A Clockwork Orange, the Life and Death Brigade follow their own whims and antics with little regard for their effect on the outside world with a haughty sense of immunity. As Logan permits Rory to write a story on Yale's secret society, he stresses the importance of the group's anonymity because "There are authority figures up and down Connecticut trying to nab us for things we may have done in the past." in S5: E7.
"What's it going to be then, eh?" - Parts 1, 2, 3, Chapter 1 and Part 3, Chapter 7
"This must be a real horrorshow film if you're so keen on my viddying it." - Part 2, Chapter 4
"If he can only perform good or only perform evil, then he is a clockwork orange - meaning that he has the appearance of an organism lovely with colour and juice but is in fact only a clockwork toy to be wound up by God or the Devil." - Part 3, Chapter 7
When I started the book, I knew that there was controversy regarding the end of the book.
It contains a brilliant literary theme and a displayed turn of human choice, so long as you're reading Chapter 21. The current rating of this book on Goodreads is a 3.99, much higher than what I have given it myself, and I can see the reasoning behind why. The real page-turner is contained within the last chapter, where the book is transformed from a mere fable and into a novella.
WHAT THE WHAT?:
There were two endings to A Clockwork Orange much like in Great Expectations, where American publishers thought it was a better idea to leave out the last chapter of the novel, wholely changing the meaning of the book and its verdict of humanity. Burgess wrote a final chapter that sums up Alex's learning through his free will and hope of a new future, however in the movie and also the original American version of the book the final words were, "I was cured all right." Leaving out the final intended chapter leads the reader to believe that Alex being cured of his conditioning relead him to an addiction to his former way of violence. The original text was only added back into the book in 1986, 24 years after it was first published.
CARO'S RATING: 2 of 5 STARS
The premise behind the book, themes of independence, free will, and evil, I can get down with. However, reading about Alex's favorite pastimes in the first part of the book is grotesque and continues for much too long, the intention of ultra-violence was made clear early in the novel. I understand that a common aversion of violence is decidedly the novel's point, but taking real-life occurrences from his wife's life and using them as an enjoyment through the eyes of the perpetrator is an offensive and heinous perspective shift. All moral judgment aside, the Nadsat language makes this an easily distracted read. I wanted to reference a glossary (listed below) the entirety of the book to ensure that I wasn't assigning my own meaning to the language and continuing it throughout the full of the book. I won't necessarily be picking this back up.
City Journal: A Prophetic and Violent Masterpiece
Factinate: 32 Facts About A Clockwork Orange
The New Yorker: The Clockwork Condition
Follow me on Goodreads
Follow my progress on The Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge
Did I miss a book cameo or reference? Send me a DM on Instagram or Twitter or contact me on my homepage!