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Essay about The Need for Nadsat in A Clockwork Orange

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        A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess, develops a fictional account of a violent futuristic society, while integrating commentary on  current political and social issues.  

 
         Not only does A Clockwork Orange present Burgess' view on behavior science, but it also contains an invented language mixed in with English. Being well educated and having a background in languages such as Russian, German, and French, Burgess created a language known as Nadsat.  Nadsat is influenced by Russian, German, English, Cockney Slang, and it also contains invented slang. The language has a poetic feel to it and Burgess' writing contains context clues that help the reader determine what the unknown language means.  The history of what led to Burgess' ideas for the novel explains the history of Nadsat because it points out the need for a fictitious language.

 

         A Clockwork Orange follows a teenager by the name of Alex, who teams up with his hoodlum friends in the night hours to commit a little bit of the old ultra violence.  After one of Alex's droogs challenges his leadership and loses, all of his friends turn on him, and our humble narrator is arrested and sent to prison for murder.  In prison, Alex volunteers for a radical new treatment, which can cure him of his evilness, in exchange for a shortened sentence.  Alex is released back into society, only to have the people he has wronged take their revenge on him.  He finally finds redemption by living a normal life in society.

 

         There are three events that led Burgess to ideas for the novel that needed a language to separate it from the content.  The biggest influence happened in 1943, when Burgess' pregnant wife, Lynne, was attacked and bruta...


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De Vitis, A. A.  Anthony Burgess.  New York:  Twayne Publishers, 1972.

Gladsky, Rita K.  "Schema Theory and Literary Texts." Language Quarterly.  30.1-2: 40-46.

Hyman, Stanley E.  Glossary of Nadsat Language. <http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Forum/3111/aco_nadsat.htm>

Keckler, Jesse.  "Biography."  A Critical Look at A Clockwork Orange.  27 Nov. 1999. <http://www.geocites.com/Athens/4572>

Nadsat Dictionary.  3 Oct. 1999. <http://cug.concordia.ca/~nadsat.html>

Petix, Esther.  "Linguistics, Mechanics, and Metaphysics: Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork     Orange (1962)."  Critical Essays on Anthony Burgess. Ed. Geoffrey Aggler.  Boston:  G. K. Hall, 1986.  pp. 121-131.

"The Ultimate Beatnik."  Ed. Boytinck, Paul.  Anthony Burgess, An Annotated Bibliography and Reference Guide.  New York:  Garland Publishing, 1985.

 


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