why Anthony Burgess’s savagely brilliant A Clockwork Orange is a modern masterpiece


The fact that it’s all the better for that proved to be a very hard one for its author to assimilate. Writers tend to indulge the necessary conceit that they do their best work in their later years: a payoff from a lifetime’s accumulation of knowledge, wisdom and skill. Like most creative artists, however, it’s often the freshness of their (relatively youthful) voice that tends to captivate the public. With his Joycean aspirations, Burgess would never be content to be described as the author of A Clockwork Orange. But while the jury has remained out on his other works, this “novella” established him as a great state-of-England writer, with a winning ear for idiolect, register, and the interplay of words and grammatical structure. However keen he might be to give Kubrick credit for the phenomenon, the omission of the end chapter aside, the movie follows the creator’s…



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