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A Clockwork Orange : Chosen Evil vs. Forced Morality

     What becomes of a man stripped of his free will? Does he continue to be a man, or does he cease? These are questions that Anthony Burgess tries to answer. Written in the middle of Burgess’ writing career, A Clockwork Orange was a reflection of a youth subculture of violence and terrorization that was beginning to emerge in the early 1960s. The novel follows Alex, a young hoodlum who is arrested for his violent acts towards the citizens of London. While incarcerated, Alex undergoes a technique in which his free will towards acts of a barbaric - or even harmless - nature is taken from him, then is forced to face the world once more as a machine-like creature. In A Clockwork Orange, Burgess explores the controversial idea of whether it is better to be forced into morality, or choose evil as a life path.
     Like most of Burgess’ other novels, A Clockwork Orange explores the conflicts between good and evil, the spirit and the flesh (Galens). The novel- a satire detailing the violent exploits of a futuristic gang - was published in 1962, and is narrated in Nadsat - a language pasted together from Russian and American slang - by fifteen year old Alex.
     The original American edition of A Clockwork Orange came out without the last chapter. In the Americanized version, there were only twenty chapters, as opposed to the twenty-one - a number that signifies adulthood. This chapter was cut out due to the fact that the publisher thought it was too sentimental (Galens).
     Though Burgess says that A Clockwork Orange is neither his best nor his favorite book, the novel established Burgess’ international reputation. Stanley Kubrick contributed to his international fame, with a 1971 film adaptation of the novel. The film won Burgess numerous new readers. The film also secured the A Clockwork Orange as the most controversial novel in English literature (Galens).
     Before and after A Clockwork Orange was published, Burgess wrote steadily, publishing eleven novels between 1960 and 1964. He edited and published many more works, including novels, screen plays, autobiographies, critical studies, and an opera. None ever achieved the notoriety that A Clockwork Orange received (Galens).

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...ex “matures and begins to [grow] weary of his violent ways” (Galens).
     One of the more fascinating aspects of “A Clockwork Orange” is the language that Burgess invents. Known as Nadsat, it is derived from British, Russian, and American slang, rhyming words, and Roma, or gypsy talk. The patterns and rhythms of Nadsat in A Clockwork Orange convey a sense of rhythm about to be destroyed (F).
     John Anthony Burgess Wilson was born in 1917. He was born in Manchester, England, to Joseph (a cashier and pub pianist) and Elizabeth (Burgess) Wilson (Galens). Both Bugess’ mother and sister died of the flu in 1919. He was raised by a maternal aunt, and later by his stepmother.
     Once he went on to college, Burgess studied English at Xaverian college and Manchester University. He graduated with a degree in English language and literature (Galens).
     During World War II, Burgess served in the Royal Army Medical Corps. “With World War II and the prospect of total annihilation…the fear that haunted the ivory towers of philosophers became a part of every living being.” (F).

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