A Clockwork Orange is a novel by Anthony Burgess, a psychological drama, published in 1962. The novel is based on a landmark event Burgess own life, his wife was raped by deserters GIs during World War II.
The novel was adapted to film by Stanley Kubrick in 1971 under the title A Clockwork Orange.
The action takes place in London in the near future. A young offender aged 14, Alex, left with his band of droogs to have a good evening. He steals, rapes, tortures, and fights. One day he gets arrested and goes to prison. It will make him undergo a treatment: the Ludovico treatment. Following this, violence and sex make him sick. Upon his release, he must face his former victims.
According to Anthony Burgess himself, Clockwork Orange title comes from an old Cockney expression “He’s as queer as a clockwork orange,” that is to say, very strange or unusual.
In Malaysia, where Burgess worked, “orang” also means “human being” and this connotation is in the word, as the anagram “organ.” The term “orange” is also included in the Nadsat vocabulary in its meaning “man.” The title could therefore also mean “The Mechanical Man,” which described the state of Alex after therapy.
A notable detail of this book is that Alex speaks a meta-slang, Nadsat consisting Russian, Gypsy (Romany speaking) and English. Throughout the book, the narrator (Alex himself) uses this language. At the end of the book, a glossary is attached.
A Clockwork Orange has a film adaptation with the same title directed by Stanley, released in theaters in 1971.
The BBC made the first TV adaptation of the novel – the first chapter only – under the title Tonight, at the book’s release in 1962. It also created the first radio adaptation of drama in 1998.
Anthony Burgess has adapted his own novel into a musical stage version in 1986. This adaptation for the theater was the first one.
In Britain, several theater companies have offered their own vision of the work: the first known adaptation was produced by John Godber at the Edinburgh Festival in 1980. In 1998, The Ensemble Theatre from the North of England filmed a contemporary interpretation of the novel, in which the droogs are skinheads performing their misdeeds on techno music.
A theatrical performance, Machinations of Choice, was presented by Craig Quintero troupe during a symposium on Clockwork Orange Angers, Dec. 8, 2001.
A theatrical adaptation was also held in Linz, Austria, in 2012. It was rated under 16.
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