A Clockwork Orange

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A Clockwork Orange is a 1962 dystopian novella by Anthony Burgess. Written from the perspective of a seemingly unapologetic protagonist, the novel also contains an experiment in language: Burgess creates teenage slang of the not-too-distant future.

In 1998, the Modern Library ranked A Clockwork Orange 65th on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.


Meaning of title

Burgess gave three explanations for the origins of the title. In a prefatory note to A Clockwork Orange: A Play with Music, Burgess wrote that the title was a metaphor for "...an organic entity, full of juice and sweetness and agreeable odour, being turned into an automaton."[1] In his essay, "Clockwork Oranges" ², Burgess asserts that "this title would be appropriate for a story about the application of Pavlovian or mechanical laws to an organism which, like a fruit, was capable of colour and sweetness". This title alludes to the protagonist's positively conditioned responses to feelings of evil which prevent the exercise of his free will. To reverse this conditioning, the protagonist is subjected to a technique in which his emotional responses to violence are systematically paired with a negative stimulation in the form of nausea caused by an emetic medicine administered just before the presentation of films depicting violent, and "ultra-violent" situations.

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