A Clockwork Orange


Why did the editor give Chapter 21 of A Clockwork Orange the axe? Was it because he wanted to leave the reader hanging? Or did he realize Americans hate sappy love story endings?

Early 20th-Century LiteratureEarly 20th-Century British Literature
FormNovel
LanguageEnglish Language
LiteratureBritish Literature
ThemesFate and Free Will
Language and Communication
Manipulation
Morality and Ethics
Power
Transformation
Violence

Transcript

00:36

When Anthony Burgess wrote it. . .

00:43

. . .there were 21 chapters. . .

00:47

. . .arranged in three equal parts.

00:52

Then an American editor got a hold of it. . .

00:55

. . . and decided the 21st chapter had to go.

00:59

So, why did that last chapter get the ax? Could it be that our humble editor thought

01:10

the 21st chapter. . .

01:12

. . .with Alex seeing the light and changing his evil ways . . .

01:15

. . . wasn’t believable? Burgess argued otherwise; that “21”. . .

01:17

. . .was a symbol of Alex’s growth from boy to man.

01:19

But he lost the battle. . .

01:20

. . .and had to wait 24 years to get that last chapter back in the book.

01:22

Wonder how he celebrated. . . Anyway, maybe that cut had nothing to do with

01:24

an unbelievable ending. Maybe the editor just wanted a more powerful

01:30

ending. . .

01:31

. . .with an unreformed hero still obsessed with violence.

01:39

Maybe he thought it would pack a bigger punch. . .

01:41

. . .than any “happy” ending ever could.

01:45

We already have stories where the good guy triumphs…

01:53

Why not let the bad guy win this time? However, our humble editor might have liked

02:03

the idea of leaving the reader hanging. If he wanted to get people talking. . .

02:13

. . .and sell more books. . .

02:16

. . .leaving Alex’s future up in the air. . .

02:19

. . .might have been a pretty good way to do it.

02:24

So, why did the American version ditch that last chapter?

02:30

Was it because the editor thought Alex would never change. . .

02:33

. . .or because Americans hate tidy, happy endings. . .

02:37

. . .or because it was more fun to leave the reader hanging?

02:42

Shmoop amongst yourselves.