A Clockwork Orange (1962)
Spine Front Cover Book Details
Anthony Burgess
Publication Date 2000
Format Leather-bound (230 x 155 mm)
Publisher The Easton Press
Genre Science Fiction
Product Details
Series Masterpieces of Science Fiction
No. of Pages 190
Paper Type Acid-neutral paper
First Edition No
Personal Details
URL This book on Amazon.com
Rating 9
No. of Reviews 437
Frontispiece/Illustrator Ron Miller
Introduction/Foreward James Gunn; Anthony Burgess
Original Details
Original Publisher W. W. Norton & Co., Inc.
Original Publication Year 1962
Novel by Anthony Burgess, published in 1962. Set in a dismal dystopia, it is the first-person account of a juvenile delinquent who undergoes state-sponsored psychological rehabilitation for his aberrant behavior. The novel satirizes extreme political systems that are based on opposing models of the perfectibility or incorrigibility of humanity. Written in a futuristic slang vocabulary invented by Burgess, in part by adaptation of Russian words, it was his most original and best-known work. Alex, the protagonist, has a passion for classical music and is a member of a vicious teenage gang that commits random acts of brutality. Captured and imprisoned, he is transformed through behavioral conditioning into a model citizen, but his taming also leaves him defenseless. He ultimately reverts to his former behavior. The final chapter of the original British edition, in which Alex renounces his amoral past, was removed when the novel was first published in the United States.
Collector's Notes

Anthony Burgess was a world-famous author who occasionally wrote science fiction. That is not unusual in this changing world. Many prominent mainstream writers, from John Barth and Pierre Boulle to William Golding, Doris Lessing, John Updike, Kurt Vonnegut, and Herman Wouk, have written science fiction as a matter of course, although mainstream critics tend to argue that, like Aldous Huxley's Brave New World and George Orwell's 1984 the novels aren't really science fiction.

Burgess was one of the most prominent of the mainstream writers who had an SF reputation, but not because the SF was that prominent a part of his body of work. Only four novels among the many he wrote over a 37-year career can be classified as science fiction, but one of them - A Clockwork Orange - gained greater visibility because of the film made by Stanley Kubrick in 1971, nine years after the novel's first publication, and since then the novel has never been out of print. It was a violent and sadistic film, more so than the novel.

The novel is concerned more with good and evil and whether the state is justified in fighting crime by removing the possibility of committing it. In the process it reveals a ruined generation through one of its spokesmen, speaking in a future slang that Burgess invented for the purpose, and the government that shaped him and now would like to control his behavior.

A Clockwork Orange was one of the earliest novels to deal with the difficult choices that contemporary biology and psychology are presenting to today's society.

Born John Anthony Burgess Wilson in 1917, the author of this famous novel lost his mother to influenza when he was two, grew up a heavy drinker in a family of heavy drinkers, got a degree from Birmingham University and helped entertain troops in World War II. He taught in various capacities after the War, including three years in Malaya, where he wrote the three volumes of his Malayan Trilogy that launched his mainstream reputation. Told in 1959 he had a brain tumor and only a year to live, he wrote half-a-dozen novels to support his wife and then discovered that the tumor, if it had existed, had disappeared.

He had started on a literary career that produced a remarkable series of novels, plays, music, criticism, and translations, that made him, in Brian W. Aldiss's words, "If not one of the century's great writers of English, . . . certainly one of its great phenomena." Prolific and diverse, he tried his hand at everything and excelled in almost everything he tried. Nevertheless, he was not a happy man. He claimed that the English had neglected him and that he was more appreciated by Americans. He was a visiting professor in the U.S. for several years. He deserted Britain because of its inheritance taxes, and lived in Malta and other Mediterranean sites, but returned to England to die - in 1993 - ironically, of cancer.

He wrote approximately 50 novels and 15 non-fiction books in addition to his television scripts, journalistic pieces and reviews, and translations. Among them were three other novels identifiable as SF: The Wanting Seed (1962), 1985 (1978), and The End of the World News (1982).

A special preface to this edition of A Clockwork Orange has been commissioned by Easton Press from James Gunn, him self a science-fiction author and critic and a retired professor of English at the University of Kansas. He has served as president of the Science Fiction Writers of America and of the Science Fiction Research Association, has earned the Pilgrim Award, the Hugo Award, and the Eaton Award for his writing about SF.