Not intended as an insult: if you read/seen it as a twelve year old, is it possible it was your experience of the work that was “shallow and adolescent,” not the work itself.
No I don’t think so. My recollection of the book is accurate and vivid. As a novel of ideas, its ideas are wrong, and as anything other than a novel of ideas it’s merely sordid.
(I was actually about fourteen when I read it, twelve when I watched it (and even younger when I saw CK, which I barely remember))
On what basis are the ideas “wrong?” What ideas are you talking about?
@ SINGING MASON
Not doubting your assessment for a moment.
But it got me thinking: What a tremendous coup it is to write a fiction that is forever a classic among teenagers! Just imagine having written, let’s say, THE OUTSIDERS (S.E. Hinton), I LOVE YOU, JUNIE MOON; GO ASK ALICE, THE BASKETBALL DIARIES, THE HOBBIT, CATCHER IN THE RYE….
And in the past: LITTLE MEN, LITTLE WOMEN, CALL OF THE WILD, WHITE FANG, HUCKLEBERRY FINN, TOM SAWYER, MY FRIEND FLICKA, BLACK BEAUTY, etc.
If one is 40 years old, he is less likely to read these novels. But if one is literate and 13—18, one surely will.
I think of it as a powerful “niche market”, haha.
With the stipulation that a novel is more than an argument (otherwise the author would have written a treatise), and with the further stipulation that fiction makes at most an implied argument through its plot and dialog, not a direct one, A Clockwork Orange appears to make a case against using aversion therapy (or similar psychological techniques) to rehabilitate criminals. It is supposed that Alex is a free agent to begin with, but is deprived of his autonomy by his treatment with the “Ludovico technique” — until, somewhat improbably, the conditioning is reversed by a head injury, restoring to him his agency and criminality (hooray!). Then, in a denouement omitted from the film, he grows tired of violence and decides to growup and be good. Because he is exercising free choice, he is now genuinely good, where before he had goodness thrust upon him.
Or am I doing the book a horrendous injustice?
David — when I’ve gone back and re-read things I enjoyed in my teens, I’ve often been pleasantly surprised to find I still like them. (Not that there’s anything wrong with young adult literature that appeals only to young adults).
I think the conditioning was reversed not by a head injury, but by the doctors themselves. They reversed the Ludovicho technique by operating on Alex’s brain.
Furthermore, I’m not sure you’ve addressed any of the ideas in the film/book, but have rather disagreed with the supposed purpose of the book.
-Or am I doing the book a horrendous injustice?-
Sorry, but I think so, yes.
I don’t understand the distinction between the ideas in a book and the purpose of a book. (Also, I’m not a neuroscientist, but it strikes me as equally improbable that conditioning could be reversed by surgery).
OK guys, at least give me a hint — is the book not an argument against using behavioural modification on criminals? Does it not concern itself with issues of free will?
I remember reading an interview of Burgess (in Horizon, I think — again, I was junior high at the time) in which he criticized the movie for not making the arguments that his book did, but instead being an execise in style.
-remember reading an interview of Burgess (in Horizon, I think — again, I was junior high at the time) in which he criticized the movie for not making the arguments that his book did, but instead being an execise in style-
What I recall Burgess saying about the film was that “when the film was made the theological element almost completely disappeared.”
-is the book not an argument against using behavioural modification on criminals?-
There’s certainly an important element of free will re: good and evil vs. state/cultural/media intervention. However, I think you’re getting too caught up in the particulars, and also I would stop short of the “argument against” part. I see it more as a dramatization of what Burgess called the “Manichean principle of the universe”—two aspects of “civilization and its discontents” that are in conflict, but not necessarily resolvable (at least not, for Burgess the good Catholic, in this life).
@ T.J. Royal
>> Kubrick and Burgess both wanted this cad’s story to be told from his point of view, for us to get into his head and see for ourselves how twisted he had allowed himself to become.
Well, it’s not like he had a universe of intractable point of views to choose from. And what’s to say that other views, or a mixture of views wouldn’t have been more effective?
>> Now, why is this movie such a big deal? On an immediate, superficial level, of course the violence that’s exacted by and against Alex, and its stylization, are what would jump to mind.
It’s a stylization. An unusual one, okay. But cool? Why?
But perhaps upon my own third viewing 10 years ago, I began to realize that this story strikes at the heart of what separates humanity from the rest of the world’s creatures, as well as members of humanity from each other. And that’s for each person’s ability to make decisions for themselves of their own free will, to work for the goodness of themselves and others, or to exact vengeance and to act in such a way disregarding other people’s well-being.
>>The Lion King made me ask the same questions.
Am I the only one who finds that Kubrick’s A CLOCKWORK ORANGE gets disappointingly weak— even nearly boring—- during the last third of the film?
^ Yeah, kind of. It starts off with so much energy than it sort of eases off. I know that is the point and whatnot, but I often find myself tuning out.
I was expecting a big finish from such a powerful and stylish movie, but we didn’t get one, nonetheless, I loved it so much!
“I was expecting a big finish”