Orange by Anthony Burgess fulfilled the category “Book with a Made-Up
Language.” All I can say is I am so glad I listened to this title on audio.
Orange, a novella about a bleak future full of ultra-violence perpetrated
by the very young, explored some serious societal issues. Topics mentioned were
youth and violence, drugs, the penal system, government—it’s influence and
control, parenting, psychological conditioning, and the ramifications of personal
actions. I could go on and on. The story was chock full of topics to discuss.
First, let’s talk
about the language. As I mentioned I listened to the story on audio. The reader
was fantastic. He spoke in a rolling, almost cockney British accent and made
the language of the book sing. The youngsters in the novel (mid-teens) speak in
a rapid-fire of invented words. Everything has a slag name to it, from body
parts to food to names for other people. And even then, the narrator mentioned
that kids younger than him had their own slang too! I can’t imagine writing a
book like this. It’s almost completely another language. I had to immerse
myself in the novel to understand everything. (A second read wouldn’t hurt.) I
isolated myself to listen, and it took me quite a while to finish the six-hour
audio. Frequently, I had to stop and translate Alex’s words in my head.
It was a real
For many reasons…
My husband was thrilled
to talk about the book once I finished. We discussed the various topics
introduced in the novel for hours. Particularly, we focused on the issues of
teens and authority. We have two teens and could see how it got out of control.
What kind of authority can you have over your children if you fear them? Alex
was a violent thug. His parents could do nothing to stop him. And we laughed at
how he was surprised when they rented his room. I sympathize with them so much.
But another huge
topic we discussed was the abridgment of the book (and the movie). The author
wrote the forward of my copy. In it, he discussed how his American publisher
cut the last chapter. In this section, Alex starts to grow up and learn the
errors of his youth. He dreams of a regular life with a wife and kid. Hubby had
never heard such a thing associated with the book or movie. We went over it for
a long time—how it changed the story, the implications of a publisher changing
a book that way. It miffed me a publisher would just cut a chapter, and the
final one, to boot. With power like that, what’s an author to do?
I could write a
dissertation on that novella, but I won’t here. (You do NOT want to read that.)
But I will say it’s one of those few classics I think should still be taught in
the high school. I’m an advocate of books relevant to students. Give them The
Hunger Games, The Hate You Give, and Fangirl rather than Native
Son, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, and Jude the Obscure. But
man, a listen to A Clockwork Orange…still relevant, still stimulating,
I give A Clockwork
Orange by Anthony Burgess Five Slooshy Moloko Pluses.