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Sarah's Library

I read pretty much anything, from fantasy (City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett) to romance (Bared to You by Sylvia Day) to classics (Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad).  The only genres I don't read are self-help and comic books/graphic novels.

Currently reading

The Last Honeytrap
Louise Lee
Progress: 100/346 pages
Complete Works of William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess

27/10 - I'm probably going to get angry comments about what I'm going to say, but in theory I agree with the doctors.
Eeeek.  Did I just say that out loud?

Yep, well I like law and order (and I did say 'in theory').

Strangely, A Clockwork Orange and this review are coincidentally relevant to something that happened to a next door neighbour and family friend last weekend.  The in their 60s parents had gone upstairs to bed a half hour or so earlier, the adult son came home around 11 and found two men ransacking the ground floor of the house.  Now, unfortunately for the burgulars he's an unusually large guy and he picked both of them up by their necks and was about ready to kill them, when his parents heard the commotion and came downstairs.  They talked him out of killing the burgulars (truly!), one of who managed to get free and escaped before the police could arrive (only a 4 minute wait from the 000 call) while the son sat on the other.  The captured burgular was heard calling out to his escaping mate "Hey, come back and save me Dave." but of course, Dave was intent on saving his own skin.  The captured burgular was arrested for aggravated burgulary (because the son put his elbow through a glass door pane during the struggle) and taken to our local police station where he was immediately bailed and back out on the streets within a few hours.  Our correctional system is attempting to get tougher on murderers or offenders convicted of multiple violent offences being out on parole (we've had a sudden rash of convicted murders, rapists etc committing further serious and violent crimes while out on parole e.g. Adrian Bayley who murdered a woman while out on parole after serving time for another murder), but isn't worried about criminals convicted of lesser crimes.

The idea that a criminal (Alex, Adrian Bayley or any other violent criminal) cannot, physically, commit a crime due to severe pain and illness isn't a bad one, in my opinion.  I don't agree with the idea that if a man can't choose to be good, is instead forced into good behaviour, he isn't a man.  Obviously, the police and/or the government could take it too far, forcing white collar criminals convicted of fraud or some other non-violent crime to be subjected to this kind of conditioning, or even conditioning government detractors to support the government (the ways to abuse the therapy are innumerable).  But if we could ever trust those in authority not to abuse the use of a therapy like this, it could create a safer world for everyone.

Despite my agreement with the idea of physically forcing violent criminals to stop being violent (without filling our jails to overflowing) if they can't/won't make the choice themselves, I did feel some sympathy for Alex.  Some of things done to him were inhumane, especially taking away his ability to listen to classical music.

At the end of the book, as Alex is thinking about his future - imagining having a wife and son and thinking about how he'll teach his son how to avoid turning out like he did, he comes to the conclusion that it's inevitable that all children (or maybe just boys, it's not clear) grow up to be violent hooligans (perhaps even murderers) in their teen years before they truly grow up and become useful and productive adults.  If this was really the case in the world today, I think most people would advocate the use of the treatment on any teen showing violent tendencies before they could commit the murder they're destined (according to Alex/Burgess) to commit.

I found the final chapter a bit surprising.  I didn't think the story would end on a happy(ish) note, I thought it might end with Alex a para or quadriplegic after his suicide attempt (but without the conditioning, removed while he was unconcious) or fully functioning but still under the effects of the treatment (and therefore continuing to suffer for his crimes either way).  The idea that he would start getting bored with all the ultra-violence with his droogs never crossed my mind.  The idea that he might get married and start a family is not a comfortable one for me to think about, I hate to think what kind of husband and father he would be.


I found the 'nadsat' language both annoying and useful, in that it kept me from really understanding what was going on during the descriptions of Alex's acts of violence, but at the same time it kept me from really understanding what was going on in most scenes of the book (I knew some of the words from the introduction, but others were more vague and could have meant five different things).  I knew what I was reading was a description of a rape or a murder, but the words didn't effect me because, due to the use of the nadsat words, they didn't create images of the acts being described as I was reading.  Most of the time, while I was reading, my mind was blank or empty, when usually I'm imagining the way the people and scenery look and trying to see what's happening in fight scenes as they're being described to me.  The only disturbing thing I was able to imagine was when Alex was strapped to the chair with his eyes held open, and that's mostly because I've seen the optometrist's implement that would be used in that situation in movies and tv shows (and always thought that if I were an actor and asked to do a scene where that implement was needed, I would refuse, I just couldn't have those poky, metal arms stuck under my eyelids without screaming in terror or being anaesthetised).  Overall, I enjoyed the book and am glad I read it.