The Clockwork Orange, while being by far his most famous work, is despised by Burgess. He feels it is a mediocre work near the grungy bottom. It probably only became quite so popular because of Stanley Kubrick's excellent film. This is one of the few films that can be respectfully acknowledged by a reader of the book. Although Kubrick doesn't do the movie precisely following the book, he takes liberties only where necessary. Well, besides the last chapter anyway, which is entirely missing.

My source for the Burgess vs. Clockwork Orange hate is his own introduction to the 21-chapter American version of A Clockwork Orange, ISBN: 0-393-31283-6 from Norton & Company.
Here are some excerpts:

"I first published the novella A Clockwork Orange in 1962, which ought to be far enough in the past for it to be erased from the world's literary memory. It refuses to be erased, however, and for this the film version ... may be held chiefly responsible. I should myself be glad to disown it for various reason, but this is not permitted."

"A Clockwork Orange has never been published entire in America." ... "21 is the symbol of human maturity ... the number 21 was the number I started out with." ... "The number of chapters is never arbitrary" ... "Those twenty-one chapters were important to me."
"But they were not important to my New York publisher." ... "He insisted on cutting out the twenty-first."
"Now when Stanley Kubrick made his film--though he made it in England--he followed the American version..." .. "Audiences did not exactly clamour for their money back, but they wondered why Kubrick left out the denoument. People wrote to me about this--indeed much of my later life has been expended on Xeroxing statements of intention and the frustration of intention--while both Kubrick and my New York publisher coolly bask in the rewards of their misdemeanour. Life is, of course, terrible."

Then he talks to a great extent on the purpose of the 21st chapter, and how very terrible it was to have been taken out. This may have had a great deal of impact on his current distaste(up until death in 1993) of the book.

"We can destroy what we have written but we cannot unwrite it. I leave what I wrote with what Dr. Johnson called fridged indifference to the didgement of that .00000001 of the American population which cares about such things. Eat this sweetish segment or spit it out. You are free."
Anthony Burgess November, 1986
The technique Stanley Kubrick uses in this movie is built upon the difficulty to understand the language the characters speak, as BAR has pointed out above (or it was above when I wrote this).

The scenery, the music, even the violence itself serves to keep us apart from the characters, and above the action. I remember being struck by the stylization of it all, especially the violence, its choreography, the minute examination each detail, the investigation of each scene until the characters seemed hardly human, certainly nothing to be empathizied--that is felt--with. And this is Kubrick's genius.

The voice-over narration of Alex is the only way into the movie--and perforce, into Alex. It seems to me this technique of distance mades the action almost comic, in the sense that only a character whom we can feel with, can we be sympathetic with--and without understanding, there is only comedy.

We are only allowed to feel with Alex. We are led to feel Alex's harrowing, because we know his mind, and we understand him.

We can even feel the evil done to him by that marvelous head, almost like Ludwig Van himself, staring up to the room where Alex is being torutred.

Such a remarkable use of language and cinema, to exclude, and then draw us in. The talent of Burgess, and then of Kubrick. Truely one of the greatest triumphs of literature in the twentieth century.

Here is a brief listing of the characters in A Clockwork Orange (more accurate to the novel, not the movie):

Alex: The hero and narrator of A Clockwork Orange. He is an extremely stubborn 15 year old with a taste for violence. He enjoys rape, brutal assault, and theft. He also has a passion for classical symphonies, his favourite being Beethoven’s Ninth. Alex is remorseless in his crimes, but dislikes sloppiness and vulgarity, which is a frequent topic of argument between he and his gang.

George: Leader of the mutiny against Alex in the gang. Despises Alex’s role of leader, wanting it for himself, he plots with the rest of the gang members to get rid of Alex, so he can be leader. Georgie is more interested in money than violence, and is killed a year after Alex’s arrest after being hit on the head during a robbery.

Dim: Dim is the stupidest member of the gang, as his name implies. He is a strong fighter with a great desire for violence. Alex is frequently annoyed by Dim’s loud voice and offensiveness. Dim is more than happy to assist Georgie in taking Alex down. He becomes a police officer at the end of the novel.

Pete: The most civil member of the gang. He is often the voice of reason during disputes between Alex and Dim. He grows up and gets an office job in insurance, and when Alex meets him and his wife in a café, he considers growing up himself.

Billyboy: Leader of the rival gang fought in part 1. Alex seems offended simply by Billyboy’s ugliness. He joins the police with Dim, to exert force on people in a more official sense.

Girls from record store: Sources state their names are Marty and Sonietta. These two girls are about 10 years old. Alex meets them in a record store and is disgusted by their lack of taste and empty minds. He takes them home and they get drunk, and he rapes them.

P. R. Deltoid: Alex’s probation officer, his goal is to keep Alex out of jail. When Alex gets arrested, Deltoid is offered an opportunity to beat Alex. He simply spits in his face.

Chaplain: Alex befriends the chaplain, and gets a job in the prison church operating the music. Alex tells the Chaplain all the things other prisoners have planned. He is an alcoholic who is strongly against Ludovico's Technique, because he believes God would rather an evil man acted evil than an evil man be forced to act good.

F. Alexander: Authour of the book (in the novel) A Clockwork Orange. Early in the story, Alex and his gang break into his house and attack and rape his wife, who dies. Alex ironically returns to his house by accident when he is released from jail, and F. Alexander sees the opportunity to use Alex as a protest against mind control by the government. Alexander betrays Alex and avenges his wife by making him jump out of a high rise building.

Dr. Brodsky and Dr. Branom: Brodsky is the doctor in charge of Ludovico's Technique. Brodsky often laughs at Alex’s misfortune. He belives Alex to be a “true Christian” after Ludovico's Technique has been applied. Branom is his assistant, who is friendly to Alex.

Alex’s Mother and Father: Alex’s parents love him, but fear him. He has been arrested several times, and they seem to have given up on them. Alex often acts innocent and tries to humour them with good behaviour. His parents seem to accept this illusion rather than admit their son is a criminal. He gives his father money to treat his mother to drinks.

Joe: The lodger that stays with Alex’s parents while Alex is in jail. He is angered at Alex’s return, and treats him with severe disrespect. Alex’s parents inform him that he cannot move in, because Joe has paid rent in advance.

A central theme in Stanley Kubrick's film A Clockwork Orange is what causes violence and hate. Alex, the main character, is cold and evil. Though he is the protagonist, as well as the narrator, and overall, the person we become most involved with in the film, his mind is so warped that we cannot always see why he does the things he does.

At some points in the movie we see Alex seemingly trying to reform (i.e. when Alex is in prison, he tells the priest that he wants the rest of his life to be "a single act of goodness.") Is Alex really trying to reform? We don't know. He may be lying in an attempt to escape the prison, or he may be sincerely expressing a desire to change himself and become what is expected of him by the powers that be.

It is easy to claim that Alex is lying. After all, he is such a sick and twisted individual that we almost write off any kind thing he says as a lie. But at the end of the story, we can no longer be so sure. All of Alex's victims, who we pitied at the beginning, inflict suffering upon the then defenseless Alex in ways worse than he inflicted upon them. The politicians who wanted to "cure" Alex use him to keep their popularity and power. Suddenly, everyone is evil, there is no place to hide, and we have to see Alex's actions with a new perspective.

Sometimes we almost feel sympathy for him. A poor child, growing up in a violent world. Savage and brutal, but merely a product of his civilization.

The lesson of A Clockword Orange is that before we condemn the actions of our children, we should examine our own morals. Before we claim that kids today are more evil, more hate-filled, and more likely to shoot up a school, we must remember that children are a product of the civilization they grew up in. We can't entirely blame them for we are also to blame.

One of the more interesting subjects concerning A Clockwork Orange, and one that is most often ignored by even the most crazed fans, is its title. There are many interpretations of it, and Anthony Burgess' is good, but involved:

"...I do not think so because, by definition, a human being is endowed with free will. He can use this to choose between good and evil. 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 by God or the Devil or (since this is increasingly replacing both) the Almighty State. It is as inhuman to be totally good as it is to be totally evil."

Burgess describes the term's origin:
"...I don't think I have to remind readers what the title means. Clockwork oranges don't exist, except in the speech of old Londoners. The image was a bizarre one always used for a bizarre thing. 'He is as queer as a clockwork orange' meant he was queer to the limit of queerness. It did not primarily denote homosexuality, though a queer, before restrictive legislature came in, was the term used for a member of the inverted fraternity. Europeans who translated the title as Arancia a Orologeria or Orange Mécanique could not understand its Cockney resonance and they assumed that it meant a hand grenade, a cheaper kind of explosive pineapple. I mean it to stand for the application of a mechanistic morality to a living organism oozing with juice and sweetness."

With that in mind, the most widely accepted simplistic explanation is that the title is simply an adaptation of the phrase "a clockwork orang" ("orang" is French for monkey), which has long been used to describe mankind. Feel free to impress anyone who has even the slightest bit of literary knowledge with this little tidbit (they'll think you're like a scholar, or something).

A Clockwork Orange - 1971
IMDB genre keywords: Crime, Drama, Sci-Fi
Directed by Stanley Kubrick
Screenplay by Stanley Kubrick, based on the novel by Anthony Burgess
Starring Malcolm McDowell as Alex DeLarge, Patrick Magee as Frank Alexander, Carl Duering as Dr Brodsky
Music by Wendy Carlos (credited as Walter Carlos)

Being the adventures of a young man whose principal interests are rape, ultra-violence and Beethoven.


Alex, and his three droogs Pete, Georgie and Dim, are a gang of murderous thugs who spend their evenings raping, pillaging, smashing and robbing, in a bleak, futuristic world. When Alex is caught, he wangles his way into an early prison release by volunteering for an experimental technique to "cure" him of his violent tendencies. Alex thinks this will be an easy way out, but gets crippling pains whenever he even thinks of anything violent. He is kidnapped by a writer he tormented back in his gang days, and it looks like suicide is the only way out...

Why You Should Watch/Rent/Buy This:

Oh, lordy lordy, what to say about this movie that hasn't been said a thousand times before? If, by some amazing chance, you haven't seen this yet, then I implore you to immediately split an infinitive and go now, get thee to a video shop, rent out the DVD (apparently this was shot in fullscreen format, and cropped for widescreen, Kubrick hating the widescreen ratio and stereo sound, for some reason - I think it looks better cropped to widescreen, but you shouldn't be missing anything out whatever version you get - thanks to belgand for alerting me to this), turn off the phone, and watch it. There is a 50-50 chance you will love this movie. Either that, or you will think it is a vile, despicable piece of filth, and switch off ten minutes into it. If you can stomach it, and stick with it, you will be rewarded by one of the most powerful, intense, thought provoking pieces of cinema ever created.

Let's get things nice and crystal clear from the start: this is my favourite movie, of all time, ever. I have watched it over and over and over, I mouth the dialogue when the characters speak, I get tears in my eyes at the sheer beauty of the shot composition. Stanley Kubrick is my favourite director. This is not going to be an objective review. Apologies in advance.

I read the book long after seeing the movie, and it is, as dannye up there says, a masterpiece. I disagree on one point though: both book and movie will be around forever. When you see the first page of the book, you think, shit, it's all written in funnytalk, this is going to be a hell of a chore. But as soon as you start reading, the language flows, the words fit in juuuust right, the context of the strange, new words means you're never at a loss. It's as if you're reading a foreign language you've never studied, but somehow understanding it. Remember the part in The Hunt For Red October when they're all talking Russian, it zooms in on Connery's mouth, and suddenly it's all in English (with a Scottish accent, of course)? That's what it's like. Buy the book. You'll be fine.

But this writeup is about the movie. I remember the first time I saw it, at the film society at my poly, which introduced me to many classics. I'd heard of it, seen the posters, knew it was a controversial, banned, violent work - but had no idea what to expect. Ten minutes into it, I was considering walking out. Not because the violence shocked me, but I thought if it's just violence all the way through and nothing else, no plot, then what's the point? But I stuck it out. And oh, Mr Kubrick had such sights to show me...

The outfits. The bowler hats. The one eyelash. The bizarre, 60's/70's, curved future world. The acting. The atmosphere. The styling. The shot composition. The wide angle lenses. The horrific acts of violence beautifully choreographed to classical music. The Beethoven. The gobsmacking performance by McDowell, which he's never topped since (dude, the last half decent movie you were in was Star Trek: Generations - what's going on?) The plot twists. The milk bottle in the face. The arrest. The prison. The dreams. The Ludovico technique. The sheer horror of the eyeball scene. The pain. The demonstration. The pseudo redemption. The rejection. The capture. The torture. The leap. The hospital. The eggiwegs ("I'd like to smash em!"). The minister. The proposition. The seriously fucked up ending. The raping, killing, beating, hooting, laughing, dancing, screaming, howling other-worldliness of it all. I had never seen anything like it, and haven't ever since.

Kubrick knows how to use his wide angle lenses, knows exactly where to put things, loves his symmetrical shots, loves his corridors (Kubrick Corridors, I call them), loves his tracking shots, his steadicam, his frozen faces. Some elements of the film, like the 60's/70's vision of the future styles (round chairs, cars, clothes etc) have dated a bit, but the rest is sharp as the knife Alex cuts Dim's hand with. The shot when the boys come through the tunnel, their shadows stretching out ahead of them, is on countless postcards and posters. Some of the language - droogs, rassoodocks, gulliver, tolchock, etc - has entered popular culture, as has the rest of the film. Nearly every other Simpsons episode has a Clockwork Orange tribute - remember the bit when Bart is conditioned against fairy cakes by Lisa? He reaches up for the two breast-shaped cakes, trying to cup them, before collapsing in a heap? Or, even better, the scene where his dog is conditioned to become a killer, eyeballs pinned open, being shown films of dogfood bowls being kicked over, snouts being struck with rolled up newspapers, and so on? Sheer class.

The music. Ah, the music. Carlos' interpretations of classical pieces with the synthesizer should be awful, shockingly bad, but somehow they work, resulting in one of the best movie soundtracks ever. I have no idea why they work so well, why I love them, but I don't care. The music for the opening sequence is one of the most powerful, disturbing pieces ever recorded. The moment when Alex realises that not only have they conditioned him against violence, but also Beethoven, is a shocker. The doctors are merely slightly amused by this "interesting" development, but to Alex they have taken away the one thing that can really tame him. Some of the classical pieces are the normal vanilla versions, but no less powerful - when Rossini's Thieving Magpie underscores a brutal gang fight, you feel like you're watching a musical, albeit one that's a bit more violent than usual. There is an extended version of the soundtrack available now, with many more of Carlos' pieces on there, so even if you already have it, it's well worth getting hold of the new copy - the catalogue number is 813622 (the original is 7599272562).

Does Alex have a choice? Has he really become "good", or is he just unable to commit evil? If this technique works, should we use it on all violent prisoners? Interesting questions back in 1971, but especially so now. He's a despicable character, but you can't help liking the bastard. The greatest mindfuck of the film is that you actually end up feeling sorry for the murderous scumbag, and angry towards the writer who's tormenting him - despite the fact that Alex raped his wife and almost beat the guy to death! By the time he's shaking hands with the minister, doing the cheesy thumbs up for the cameras, grinning like a loon, you're delighted. Partly for Alex, but mainly because it's such a naughty way to end the film - when I think about it in depth like this, I'm freaked out that I can be so easily led, but when I'm watching the film I'm just like "Yeah, go for it Alex!" It gets inside your head and casually flicks the morality switch off for a while. Now that's disturbing cinema.

It's not for everyone. You might not like it, you might hate it, you might think it's just shite, and that's okay. But give it a go. You might just have found yourself a new favourite movie.

The "Ban":

Contrary to popular belief, A Clockwork Orange was never actually banned in the UK. When it was originally released here, it caused a storm of controversy, much like the rabid frenzy when Crash came out more recently. It was generally well received though, people liked it, and it did very well.

And then the copycat crimes began. A girl was raped by a gang who sang Singin' In The Rain. A tramp was kicked to death by a teenager wearing the outfit of Alex and his droogs. Sad little turds who would have committed the crimes anyway copied the film's style, and the film itself was unjustly blamed. As Burgess said at the time "Neither cinema nor literature can be blamed for original sin. A man who kills his uncle cannot justifiably blame a performance of Hamlet."

But Kubrick was horrified. Instead of people being freaked out by Alex's behaviour, they loved it, even egging him on (ahem... wouldn't catch me doing that...) A combination of things - the copycat crimes, the misinterpretation, and death threats to Kubrick's family - led him to withdraw the film from release himself. It was never banned officially, Kubrick just said that it was not to be released again in the UK until after his death. When he died, I felt sad that there would be no more masterpieces from the man, but took solace in the fact that I could finally see his best film where it belonged - on the big screen. And oh my brothers, when that day finally arrived, when I sat in front of that cinema screen and watched Kubrick's masterpiece unfolding in front of me, it was gorgeousness and gorgeousity made flesh.

Most Excellent Movie Trivia:

Most of the exteriors were shot in Thamesmead, London SE28, a new development at the time. The tunnel Alex and his droogs walk through to beat up the tramp is near the Tavy Bridge shopping centre, if you want to take photographs of you and your mates casting shadows at night. You'll need a fucking huge movie spotlight to get the look right, though. Tramp not included.

For the leap out of the window near the end, Kubrick trashed six camera lenses heaving a bloody big camera off the side of a house - when one finally landed face down, the shot was in the can.

That eyeball scene - McDowell had one of his corneas scratched while filming it, and was temporarily blinded. McDowell remembers the doctor employed to play the person dripping water into his eyes being more concerned with his own performance than keeping his eyes moist.

The book was published in America minus Chapter 21, which has Alex settling down and reforming his wild ways. Contrary to popular belief, Kubrick had no idea of the existence of the missing chapter, until he'd nearly finished his screenplay adaptation. However, when he discovered it, he decided to leave it out anyway, partly because it was at such a late stage, but mainly because he felt it didn't work at all, and thought it was false and unbelievable. I don't think it would have worked in the movie either, but it works fine in the book.

David Prowse plays the weird bodybuilder in the writer's house towards the end, the one whose shorts are far, far too tight. After repeated takes where he had to carry the writer in the wheelchair down some steps, he refused to do any more, exhausted. When Kubrick said that he'd hired him because he was a big, strong weightlifter, Prowse pointed out that men in wheelchairs were hardly standard gym equipment.

Philip Stone, who plays Alex's dad, was the sinister caretaker/waiter in The Shining. "I had to... correct them, sir..." He also turns up in Barry Lyndon, as Graham.

In the record shop scene, if you look closely you can see a copy of the soundtrack album for 2001: A Space Odyssey. Also in the shop, the top 10 list features a band called "The Heaven Seventeen", a name pinched by Heaven 17 (they briefly considered Goggly Gogol, but it didn't have quite the same ring to it).

"CRM 114" crops up in Kubrick's movies now and again. Alex is given Serum 114 during his "treatment" - serum/CRM. In Dr. Strangelove, the decoder machine is the CRM-114. In Eyes Wide Shut, the morgue is in the C wing, 1st floor, room 14 - C (wing) RM (room) 1 (1st floor) 14. In Back to the Future, this can also be seen on the big-ass amplifier Marty plugs his guitar into, but I don't know if this is an intentional reference or not. There's no big mystery of where it came from - it first appeared in Dr. Strangelove, because it came from the book it was based on, Red Alert by Peter Bryant - as in the film, it was just the name of the decoder machine. There is speculation that it has some other hidden, clever meaning, but it was probably just a little jokey thing Kubrick did that everyone, including me, is taking way too seriously...

Why does Alex suddenly start singing Singin In The Rain during the rape scene? Kubrick told McDowell to sing something, and it was the only song McDowell knew all the words to. Although he clearly has trouble with lyrics, as he repeats the same set twice. According to Kubrick, Gene Kelly never spoke to him again after he saw the film.

In Barry Lyndon, there is a painting by an artist called Ludovico - the name of the technique used to condition Alex.

When Alex meets Georgie and Dim after they've joined the police force, their badge numbers are 665 and 667. Presumably this would make Alex 666. (Unless it's Pete, who obviously didn't make it as a copper, and ended up working in Burger King or something).

Entirely from memory, geekiness and love, except for:

IMDB for the cast list and genre keywords for the details of the copycat crimes and Burgess quote
Kubrick FAQ at for the source of the CRM 114 thing, and the Eyes Wide Shut CRM 114 reference.

Visit beautiful Thamesmead! Okay, it's just Thamesmead:,3604,181465,00.html

Of the write-ups listed above, only RalphieK has really glimpsed what makes A Clockwork Orange so important as both a book and a film. Both are stylistically brilliant, well constructed works that effectively pose the question: What is the price of human choice?

Alex, our humble narrator and protagonist, is a monster. He does not see others as human, even his companions Dim and Pete are nothing more than extensions of his own ultraviolent self. He shows this in the scene where he humbles Dim when that put upon character wants more choice inside the gang.

And these are his friends.

The rest of us, (except for his probation officer P.R. Deltoid -- who alone has power over him), are simply things, toys to be used and discarded, vessels for Alex’s immense anger and lust. He is a true sociopath in the vein of Ted Bundy and gang-banger Sanyika Shakur. Only one thing about him is human, his love of music.

When he is betrayed by his friends and pastured, and put into the Ludovico technique. There he spots a few "malchikis about to give a little devotchka a little of the old in-and-out . . . All to the lovely strains of Ludwig van . . .” And so he sits taking the drugs and watching films of rape and murder until the conditioning wins, and he becomes ill at even the thought of violence or sex.

After Ludovico Alex is fit to resume his place in society, able to work again, never again a rapist, murderer or thief. But he has no choice in this, the desire remains, the deep hunger. This is indicated by the scene where Alex is displayed publicly, the first success of Ludovico. A beautiful woman clad only in her panties is brought on stage and paraded in front of Alex. He reaches for her breasts, and doubles over in sickness.

He returns to society and there meets Pete and Dim, who have channeled their rage in a more acceptable direction. They have become policemen, who now direct their violent rage against criminals. The see Alex and beat him mercilessly because they can. Alex is unable to defend himself, even from an unprovoked assault. He cannot choose any more. He can only endure, a perpetual victim.

Worse, he can no longer bear the music he loves. The first bars of the lovely Beethoven's Ninth Symphony ring out and the illness comes. He cannot enjoy the one thing that made him human.

Well meaning people seek to cure him to reverse the Ludovico technique. And they succeed. This is brilliantly handled in the film, where he sits in his sanatorium bed, surrounded by gigantic PA speakers, playing beautiful music. And above the brilliant music of Wendy Carlos, you hear Alex’s narration, “Aye, and I was cured alright,” with the viciousness and malice of the true psychopath.

And here lies the question: If we could use mind control to change a vicious person like Alex, should we? His state after the Ludovico conditioning has a certain ironic symmetry, the monster reduced to helpless victim. But at the price of his humanity? Is the Ludovico technique better than death, better than prison?

The implication at the end is that Alex may return to rape and murder, though that is not certain. At the end, he is free to choose. He is human. For better and worse. A Clockwork Orange makes no attempt to answer this question. But this important question has never been better posed.

Burgess as the Conservative:
Themes Against Big Government in A Clockwork Orange and The Wanting Seed

Anthony Burgess wrote during the 1960s, a period of literary and social liberalism in the west that revolutionized the way English-speaking people looked at their culture and government. Though Burgess' personal politics were definitely of a liberal bent, his career as a satirist is marked by a very conservative trend against powerful government. Although dealing with strikingly different issues and themes, A Clockwork Orange (1963) and The Wanting Seed (1962) exhibit an intellectual climate of rightist conviction of big government's inevitable corruptibility. Dealing with the scope of Burgess' satire, one may argue that A Clockwork Orange is a clear representative of his fear of too-powerful national government.

Orange is a typically surrealistic vision of a future England, one overpopulated and dominated by a nameless Government whose law decrees that every citizen 'not a child, nor with child, nor ill' should work and whose urban projects involve massive murals depicting 'the dignity of labor'. While drawing on imagery from Communist Russia in this way, Burgess adds a disconcerting picture of a provincial town in which the night is populated by vicious thugs and milk bars where fifteen-year-old boys can purchase milk laced with mind-altering drugs. The central theme of Orange deals with the necessity of moral choice to the retention of personal humanity; Burgess' satire, nevertheless, seems to repeatedly attack the evils he believes to be coexistent with a socialistic government. The Government in Orange seems at different points comic, sinister, or both; his attack, however, extends to the politics of a totalitarian state as a whole, skewering both the resistance (as personified by F. Alexander and his compatriots) and the oppressive Government itself. One may argue that Burgess views the influence of socialist totalitarianism as a malignancy which extends to all corners of the State, that is, the Resistance of a totalitarianism must necessarily adopt some of the evils of the ruling institution in order to oppose it.

Preceding it by a year, The Wanting Seed may be considered a companion volume to A Clockwork Orange in that both deal with grim visions of an English future under a socialized state. Burgess' social commentary turns away from the corruption and insincerity of Big Government and in turn addresses the unnatural elements of a command economy and family planning. Seed deals with issues of overpopulation, enforced peace, and the breakdown of the latter into uncontrollable warfare; the world of Seed is, if anything, even more distressing than that in Orange. The axe which Burgess grinds throws clearer sparks, however, in the latter novel; his attack against the capitalized Government through which he personifies the Communist bloc of the world of 1960 is mercilessly clear in ways Seed did not address.

Though we are aware from the inception of A Clockwork Orange that all is not right with the administration of the future English government, Burgess begins his most vicious satire when Alex, the anti-hero, is arrested by the police after a failed burglary. The following exchange ensues:

"I won't say one single solitary slovo [word] unless I have my lawyer here. I know the law, you bastards." . . . Of course they all had a good gromky smeck [loud laugh] at that and the stellar top millicent [police chief] said:
"Righty right, boys, we'll start off by showing him that we know the law, too, but that knowing the law isn't everything." . . . Then he clenched his stinking red rooker [fist] and let me have it in the belly . . . after that they all had a turn.
The theme of police brutality as a symbol for the government itself is developed later in the novel, after Alex is released from prison, when he is taken to the outskirts of town and brutally beaten by two police officers though he had done nothing wrong. Physical brutality, however, seems less reprehensible in Burgess' eyes than political brutality. The Minister of the Interior, whom Alex consistently refers to as the 'Minister of the Inferior', comments to his henchmen:
"The government cannot be concerned any longer with outmoded penological theories. Cram criminals together and see what happens. You get concentrated criminality, crime in the midst of punishment. Soon we may be needing all our prison space for political offenders."

This comment marks a shift into the most concentrated and vitriolic of Burgess' attack against the intellectual and political brutality of his nightmarish Government. Alex is soon afterward subjected to a conditioning program designed to train him out of any violent or criminal tendencies; he is shown films of rape, violence, and brutality while being piped full of nauseating drugs. These films contain background music, however; Alex, whose one 'human' feature is his love of classical music, discovers that he has been not only conditioned against violence but against music as well. Here is a double crime: Alex has been stripped of his humanity both in that he can no longer make moral choices but has been robbed of his single redeeming characteristic. While the chief vehicle of Burgess' theme of moral choice, Alex' reconditioning may be seen as a symbol for the smothering effect of big government as Burgess perceives it. Alex, to whom the reader is by this time (and against all reason) sympathetic, becomes a representative of the political and artistic circles which a pessimist's Socialism must necessarily crush.

In response to inflammatory writing on the part of F. Alexander, the Government 'Cures' Alex of his aversion therapy while he recovers in the hospital from his climactic suicide attempt. Burgess' presentation of Big Government paints it as essentially self-interested; it does what is best for itself. The Minister of the Interior (Inferior) hosts a media spot in which he and Alex pose together 'All like droogy [friendly]', smiling and presenting the boy with a new stereo system. Burgess is clear to point out that this is an action of necessity rather than one of moral realization. Indeed, Alex is unchanged by his experience; as he lays in the hospital bed, listening to Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, he remarks:

Oh, it was gorgeosity and yumyumyum. When it came to the Scherzo I could viddy [see] myself very clear running and running on like very light and mysterious nogas [feet], carving the whole litso [face] of the creeching [screaming] world with my cut-throat britva [razor]. And there was the slow movement and the lovely last singing movement still to come. I was cured, all right.

Alex finishes his narrative on this unhopeful note; we assume that, through all his experiences, he still 'prefers badness' as he proclaims earlier in the narrative. This is, however, irrelevant to the message of the book; it seems that to Burgess' reckoning it is better to be evil by one's own choice than to live benevolently without an opposing option. In relation to his social conservatism, one may argue that Burgess is making a generalized statement about the nature of capitalist and socialist governments in opposition; it is better, he seems to say, for one to live badly, wastefully, competitively than to support one's society without a choice to do otherwise. In this, A Clockwork Orange may be said to be the clearer, more effective satire when compared to The Wanting Seed; in the former, there is a definitive moral statement, whereas The Wanting Seed is far more ambiguous. Indeed, the earlier novel does not make a value judgment at all, merely indicting both 'sterile peace' and 'fertile war'; while a clear alternative, a definitive solution is suggested in Orange there is no such implication in Seed. In such, A Clockwork Orange may be considered the more effective moral treatise and perhaps the logical culmination of ideas Burgess began to develop in The Wanting Seed.

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