“A Clockwork Orange” By Anthony Burgess 

30985210“A Clockwork Orange”
By Anthony Burgess
Narrated by: Tom Hollander
Length: 7 hrs and 48 mins
Release date: 05-06-10
Publisher: Random House AudioBooks

The Stanley Kubrick version of “A Clockwork Orange” was a big influence on my youth.  Not making me ultraviolent or wanting to break the law, but it was the first time I realized that the government does not have all the answers.  Oh yeah, that and it made me want to try Milk Plus.

I had read the book not long after seeing the movie in my youth, and I loved the jargon used by Alex and his droogs.  I never fully adapted the Nadsat language to my own but every once in a while I would find myself using it a malenky bit.  When I read the book back then I tried to memorize the appendix that contained a definition for all the words.  The language borrowed from Russian and then some nonsensical rhyming and was just as fun to say as it was to hear.  The audiobook doesn’t have that appendix but the language is actually pretty easy to pick up after just the first chapter.

One thing to note is that the American publication left out a final 21st chapter that was published in the U.K.  The publisher claimed that last chapter would not go well with American audiences.  I had not know about this final chapter until recently.  In fact, when Kubrick made the movie he based it on the American publication thus also leaving out that final chapter.

This audiobook contains that final chapter and after having absorbed it with the rest of the book, I can now see that the ending is a bit more dramatic without it.  Basically the final chapter (spoilers here) has Alex returning back to his ultraviolent ways but only for a bit because maturity starts to show him another life.  After all Alex is actually only 15 years old at the beginning of the story and 18 by the end.

I like both endings and can appreciate either one as your choice.  If you loved the ending of the film then fine, but if you think there could be more there is more to be had.  Either way enjoy this classic as soon as you can.  The book also has other slight differences that really have little change in the outcome, but I do find Kubrick’s editing of the story for the film to be a bit less wordy and more to the point..

Tom Hollander becomes the character of your humble narrator easily and is able to deliver the full punch in the gut that is the life of Alex, Pete, Georgie, and Dim (who is quite dim) and their adventures.

Publisher’s Summary

In this 1962 classic, a novelistic exploration of modern crime and punishment, Alex is the 15-year-old leader of his gang of “droogs” thriving in the ultraviolent future, as prophetically imagined by Burgess. Speaking a bizarre Russian-derived slang, Alex and his friends freely pillage and slash their way across a nightmarish urban landscape until Alex is captured by the judicial arm of the state. He then becomes their prized guinea pig in a scientific program to completely “redeem” him for society.

If we had the power of absolute criminal reform, what, the novel asks, would this mean for our ideals of freedom and society? This edition reinstates the final chapter missing from Kubrick’s film, in which Alex is on the verge of starting a family as he reflects on – and completely rejects – his adolescent nastiness. It also includes Burgess’s introduction “A Clockwork Orange Resucked”.

©1962 The Estate of Anthony Burgess (P)2010 Random House Audiobooks