A Clockwork Orange
by Anthony Burgess
A Clockwork Orange Introduction
In A Nutshell
A Clockwork Orange was published in 1962 by Anthony Burgess. Interestingly, the book contained twenty-one chapters in its British debut, but only twenty chapters in its American release. Burgess was miffed about the decision by his New York publisher to "abridge" the book for its American audience, but he couldn't very well object at the time, as he was a starving writer. In any case, he got even eventually, when the book was re-released in 1986 in all of its twenty-one-chapter glory.
Unfortunately, Stanley Kubrick's movie bearing the same name was modeled after the slimmer American book release -- that is, the one without the final chapter. To Burgess's dismay, Kubrick's movie memorialized an incomplete version of his work. In any case, it turns out that Burgess actually didn't like his novel A Clockwork Orange, anyway. (Burgess liked it as much as Beethoven liked his Minuet in G, or Rachmaninoff his Prelude in C Sharp Minor, written when Rachmaninoff was a mere boy.)
Why Should I Care?
Come on, admit it. You're probably here because of the Stanley Kubrick movie, which, by the way, was adapted from this book and not vice versa. The hype is well-deserved, though, despite what Anthony Burgess himself had to say about it (in fact, he strongly disliked A Clockwork Orange, his book). There is a reason this book is still around after 40+ years. It is shocking. It is thrilling. It is innovative, and fashionable (in fact, the "heighth of fashion" described in the book can make New York Fashion Week look weak). What's more, this book addresses subculture, rebellion, music, teenage gangs, violence, rape, and slang – topics all still very relevant today, on the streets and in high schools alike. It really is the grand-daddy of edgy, and if you won't take our word for it, ask Stanley Kubrick.