Anthony Burgess

June 8, 2006


John Anthony Burgess Wilson
English novelist, critic, poet, playwright, screenwriter, journalist, essayist, travel writer, broadcaster, translator and educationalist
Studied English Language and Literature at Manchester University
Served at the British Army Education Corps during WWII
Wrongly diagnosed with a cerebral tumour and given twelve months to live, Burgess took up writing full time in order to provide for his wife
Burgess smoked up to 80 cigarettes, panatelas, cigars, cigarillos and/or cheroots per day

A Clockwork Orange (1963)

Inspired by an incident during World War II in which his wife Lynne was allegedly robbed and assaulted in London during the blackout by deserters from the U.S. Army
Burgess claims that writing the novel was both a catharsis and an “act of charity” towards his wife’s attackers since the story is narrated by and essentially sympathetic to one of the attackers rather than their victim
An examination of free will and morality
It is one of Burgess’s “terminal novels”, written to provide posthumous income for his wife after Burgess was diagnosed with a brain tumour.
Burgess thought the novel was overrated
The novel is broken into three parts, each with 7 chapters, said to be a reference to Shakespeare’s 7 ages of man
Themes of maturity/aging, good/evil, human freedom
It has been speculated that Burgess used the character F. Alexander to represent his own opinions, since Alexander is the author of the novel and it was his wife who was attacked


“…by definition, a human being is endowed with free will.  He can use this to choose between good and evil.  If he can only perform good or only perform evil, then he is a clockwork orange- meaning that he has the appearance of an organism lovely with colour and juice but is in fact only a clockwork toy to be wound up by God or the Devil or (since this is increasingly replacing both) the Almighty State.  It is as inhuman to be totally good as it is to be totally evil.  The important thing is moral choice.”

“You were not put on this earth just to get in touch with God.  That sort of thing could sap all thge strength and the goodness out of a chelloveck.”

“But, myself, I couldn’t help a bit of disappointment at things as they were those days.  Nothing to fight against really.  Everything as easy as kiss-my-sharries.  Still, the night was still very young.”

“Men on the moon and men spinning round the earth like it might be midges round a lamp, and there’s not no attention paid to earthly law nor order no more.”

“Then I looked at its top sheet, and there was the name- A CLOCKWORK ORANGE- and I said: ‘That’s a fair gloopy title.  Who ever heard of a clockwork orange?’  Then I read a malenky bit out loud in a sort of very high type preachig goloss: ‘-The attempt to impose upon man, a creature of growth and capable of sweetness, to ooze juicily at the last round the bearded lips of God, to attempt to impose, I say, laws and conditions appropriate to a mechanical creation, against this I raise my sword-pen-‘”

“‘What natural right does he have to think he can give the orders and tolchock me whenever he likes?'”

“As I slooshied, my glazzies tight shut to shut in the bliss that was better than any synthemesc Bog or God, I knew such lovely pictures.  There were vecks and ptitsas, both young and starry, lying on the ground screaming for mercy, and their litsos.  And there were devotchkas ripped and creeching against walls and I plunging like a shlaga into them, and indeed when the music, which was one movement only, rose to the top of its big highest tower, then, lying there on my bed with glazzies tight shut and rookers behind my gulliver, I broke and spattered and cried aaaaaaah with the bliss of it.  And so the lovely music glided to its glowing close.”

“‘What gets into you all?  We study the problem and we’ve been studying it for damn well near a century, yes, but we get no farther with our studies.  You’ve got a good home here, good loving parents, you’ve got not too bad of a brain.  Is it some devil that crawls inside you?'”

“But, brothers, this biting of their toe-nails over what is the cause of badness is what turns me into a fine laughing malchick.  They don’t go into what is the cause of goodness, so why of the other shop?  If lewdies are good that’s because they like it, and I wouldn’t ever interfere with their pleasures, and so of the other shop.  And I was patronizing the other shop.  More, badness is of the self, the one, the you or me on our oddy knockies, and that self is made by old Bog or God and is hsi great pride and radosty.  But the not-self cannot have the bad, meaning they of the government and the judges and the schools cannot allow the bad because they cannot allow the self.  And is not our modern history, my brothers, the story of brave malenky selves fighting these big machines?  I am serious with you, brothers, over this.  But what I do I do because I like to do.”

“Music always sort of sharpened me up, O my brothers, and made me like feel like old Bog himself, ready to make with the old donner and blitzen and have vecks and ptitsas creeching away in my ha ha power.”

“‘Look, old Dim’s bleeding to death.’
‘Never,’ I said.  ‘One can die but once.  Dim died before he was born.'”

“‘Goodness comes from within, 6655321.  Goodness is something chosen.  When a man cannot choose he ceases to be a man.'”

“‘Traitors,’ I said.  ‘Traitors and liars,’ because I could viddy it was all like before, two years before, when my so-called droogs had left me to the brutal rookers of the millicents.  There was no trust anywhere in the world, O my brothers, the way I could see it.”

“‘The government cannot be concerned any longer with outmoded penological theories.  Cram criminals together and see what happens.  You get concentrated criminality, crime in the midst of punishment.  Soon we may be needing all our prison space for political offenders.’  I didn’t pny this at all, brothers, but after all he was not govoreeting to me.  Then he said: ‘Common criminals liek this unsavoury crowd’-(that meant me, brothers, as well as the others, who were real prestoopnicks and treacherous with it)-‘can best be dealt with on a purely curative basis.  Kill the criminal relfex, that’s all.  Full implementation in a year’s time.  Punishment means nothing to them, you can see that.  They enjoy their so-called punishment.  They start murdering each other.'”

“‘What does God want?  Does God want goodness or the choice of goodness?  Is a man who chooses the bad perhaps in some way better than a man who has the good imposed upon him?'”

“‘Prison taught him the false smile, the rubbed hands of hypocrisy, the fawning greased obsequious leer.'”

“‘He has no real choice, has he?  Self-interest, fear of physical pain, drove him to that grotesque act of self-abasement.  Its insincerity was clearly to be seen.  He ceases to be a wrongdoes.  He ceases also to be a creature capable of moral choice.'”

“‘There was never any trust,’ I said, bitter, wiping off the krovvy with my rooker.  ‘I was always on my oddy knocky.'”

“‘You’ve sinned, I suppose, but your punishment has been out of all proportion.  They have turned you into something other than a human being.  You have no power of choice any longer.  You are committed to socially acceptable acts, a little machine capable only of good.'”

“‘To turn a decent young man into a piece of clockwork should not, surely, be seen as any triumph for any government, save one that boasts of its repressiveness.'”

“‘Some of us have to fight.  There are great traditions of liberty to defend.  I am no partisan man.  Where I see the infamy I seek to erase it.  Party names mean nothing.  The tradition of liberty means all.  The common people will let it go, oh yes.  They will sell liberty for a quieter life.  That is why they must be prodded, prodded-‘”

“I could viddy myself very clear running and running on like very light and mysterious nogas, carving the whole litso of the creeching world with my cut-throat britva.  And there was the slow movement and the lovely last signing movement still to come.  I was cured all right.”

“Power power, everybody like wants power.”

“Yes yes yes, there it was.  Youth must go, ah yes.  But youth is only being in a way like it might be an animal… Being young is like being like one of these malenky machines.”

“I knew he would not understand or would not want to understand at all and would do all the veshches I had done, yes perhaps even killing some poor starry forella surrounded with mewing kots and koshkas, and I would not be able to really stop him.  And nor would he be able to stop his own son, brothers.  And so it would itty on to like the end of the world, round and round and round, liek some bloshy gigantic like chelloveck, like old Bog Himself (by courtesy of Korova Milkbar) turning and turning and turning a vonny grahzny orange in his gigantic rookers.”


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