English Writer and Composer John Anthony Burgess Wilson, FRSL (Anthony Burgess) sadly passed away 22 November 1993 St John’s Wood, London, England at the age of 76. Born 25 February 1917 in Harpurhey, Manchester Burgess was predominantly seen asa comic writer, and although this was how his works were read, he claimed that his works weren’t intended to be humorous. The dystopian satire A Clockwork Orange is Burgess’s most famous novel, though he dismissed it as one of his lesser works, and it is in many ways an atypical Burgess work. It was adapted into a highly controversial 1971 film by Stanley Kubrick, which Burgess said was chiefly responsible for the popularity of the book.
A Clockwork Orange is a 1962 dystopian satire portraying a future and dystopian Western society with—based on contemporary trends—a culture of extreme youth rebellion and violence: it explores the violent nature of humans, human free will to choose between good or evil, and the desolation of free will as a solution to evil. Burgess experiments with language, writing in a Russian-influenced argot called “Nadsat” used by the younger characters and the anti-hero in his first-person narration. According to Burgess, the novel was a jeu d’esprit written in just three weeks. He bemoaned the fact that the book had been taken as the source material for a 1971 film that was perceived to glorify sex and violence. In 2005, A Clockwork Orange was included on Time magazine’s list of the 100 best English-language novels written since 1923, and it was named by Modern Library and its readers as one of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. The original transcipt of the book has been revealed to be at McMaster University. Hamilton, Ontario, Canada (2012)
Clockwork Orange is the story of Alex, a teenager living in near-future England, who leads his gang on nightly orgies of opportunistic, random “ultra-violence”. Alex’s friends (“droogs” in the novel’s Anglo-Russian slang, Nadsat) are: Dim, a slow-witted bruiser who is the gang’s muscle; Georgie, an ambitious second-in-command; and Pete, who mostly plays along as the droogs indulge their taste for ultra-violence. Characterised as a sociopath and a hardened juvenile delinquent, Alex is also intelligent and quick-witted, with sophisticated taste in music, being particularly fond of Beethoven.
The novel begins with the droogs sitting in their favorite hangout before indulging in a night’s mayhem. They assault a scholar walking home from the public library, rob a store leaving the owner and his wife bloodied and unconscious, stomp a panhandling derelict, then scuffle with a rival gang. Joyriding through the countryside in a stolen car, they break into an isolated cottage and maul the young couple living there, beating the husband and raping his wife. Georgie later challenges Alex for leadership of the gang, demanding that they pull a “man-sized” job.so Alex insists on following through on Georgie’s idea to burgle the home of a wealthy old woman.which ends in tragedy, as Alex’s attack kills the elderly woman. His escape is blocked by Dim, who attacks Alex, leaving him incapacitated on the front step as the police arrive and arrest him for murder.
Sentenced to prison for murder, Alex gets a job at the Wing chapel playing religious music, and he agrees to undergo an controversial experimental behaviour-modification treatment called the Ludovico Technique. The technique is a form of aversion therapy in which Alex receives an injection that makes him feel sick while watching graphically violent films, eventually conditioning him to suffer crippling bouts of nausea at the mere thought of violence. Although the prison chaplain accuses the state of stripping Alex of free will, the government officials on the scene are pleased with the results and Alex is released into society.
Burgess produced numerous other novels, including the Enderby quartet, and Earthly Powers, regarded by most critics as his greatest novel. In 2008, The Times placed Burgess number 17 on their list of “The 50 greatest British writers since 1945. He was also a prominent literary critic and journalist, writing acclaimed studies of classic writers such as William Shakespeare, James Joyce, D. H. Lawrence and Ernest Hemingway.cBurgess was also an accomplished musician and linguist. He composed over 250 musical works, including a first symphony around age 18, wrote a number of libretti, and translated, among other works, Cyrano de Bergerac, Oedipus the King and Carmen.