This novel has a really direct nature, and is frequently blunt to the point of discourtesy, but this makes it more powerful and helps to foster its point.
Click to share on Pocket Opens in new window Evelyn Waugh said that change was evidence of life, though that maxim never noticeably softened his stiff opinions.
There are beliefs we cling to and will not let go; it must be considered a kind of grace in my old age to abandon a conviction that was part of my blood and bone. I mean the conviction that the arts were sacrosanct, and that included the sub-arts, that they could never be accused of exerting either a moral or an immoral influence, that they were incorrupt, incorruptive, incorruptible.
I have quite recently changed my mind about that. It was a wish not to see William Shakespeare as a violent writer. One play of his we are unlikely ever to see on the stage again, and are totally certain never to see adapted to television, is the tragedy Titus Andronicus.
This, with its gang rape, mutilation, cannibalism, and a final massacre, goes as far as we could expect from the most depraved porno-violence of today: Thomas Kyd made Hieronimo bite out his tongue in The Spanish Tragedy, but this was too improbable an act to be taken seriously; nevertheless, that play is the progenitor of the tradition of the Tragedy of Blood, to which Lear and Hamlet belong.
The greatest drama of all time was soaked in blood and crippled with violence. Of course, it may be said that without violence there can be no drama.
A play, even a comedy, depends on opposition, and opposition can be murderous. Opposition has to be resolved, either in mourning or in laughter, and this is what makes plot. Physical violence is the monopoly, at least in our own age, of the inferior artist. Article continues after advertisement I am now about to rub certain sore places.
I have been allegedly as responsible as anyone in the last 30 years for the cult of violence. I published in a novella entitled A Clockwork Orange, which was more concerned with methods of quelling violence among the young than with the glorification of aggression.
Ten years after publication, baffled reviews, and a tiny readership, Stanley Kubrick adapted the book to the screen, rather brilliantly. In both book and film the protagonist is, through aversion therapy, changed from an aggression-loving lout into an automaton that vomits at even the thought of violence.
The question was asked: Not many viewers of the film took notice of the question: As we know, Kubrick, and incidentally myself, were accused of concocting a piece of violent pornography; Kubrick received violent threats from some of the foes of violence; the film was withdrawn in this country, though in no other; because no one here is free to see it, the film has accrued a far worse reputation than it merits.
More than anything, a major cinematic artist has admitted to the world that art can be harmful. And, indeed, why not? Note that the only approaches to the film, then as now, were of attack and defense: Article continues after advertisement My argument was that action was anterior to art; that aggression was built into the human system and could not be taught by a book, film or play.
I was defending William Shakespeare. From the film of A Clockwork Orange youth did not learn aggression: What it did learn was a style of aggression, a mode of dressing violence up in a new way, a piquant sauce to season the raw meat of kicks, biffs and razor-slashings.
Possibly a man may see Hamlet and then do what he has put off doing—namely, kill his uncle. Whether The Silence of the Lambs has genuinely promoted cannibalism or the mad butchery of its major villain we do not know.
We all bow now, anyway, to the thesis I thought I would never accept—that art is dangerous. That goes too far, but I begin to accept that, as a novelist, I belong to the ranks of the menacing. I used to regard myself as a harmless key-basher or pen-pusher.
In turning itself into a kind of movie museum, as well as a showcase for low-budget telefilm, the medium has already betrayed something of its initial function. The theater was brought into the drawing room, and the theater never permitted the excesses of the cinema.
The kind of detection film that now fills the odd hour before bedtime has to be violent—there is not time for psychological penetration—but the violence of the wicked is balanced by the violence of the just.
Yet I doubt if the formulaic violence of such films makes any real impact: Most of my TV-viewing over the last 20 years has been in France and Switzerland, with occasional sojourns in New York.
TV is, as the world knows, best in Britain, but there is no vast division in quality whether one crosses the Atlantic or the Alps. World television is homogeneous, meaning crammed with harmless American sitcoms.
As a mere visitor to Britain I am appalled by the vulgarity of the commercials that pay for what comes before and after, by the debasement of speech, by humor so anally based that one blushes. Now the urge to cram every minute with chromatic fodder is bound to draw on cheap violence. But I do not think there is anything to fear.A Clockwork Orange is Anthony Burgess’s most famous novel and its impact on literary, musical and visual culture has been extensive.
The novel is concerned with the conflict between the individual and the state, the punishment of young criminals, and the possibility or otherwise of redemption. Anthony Burgess (–) was a novelist, poet, playwright, composer, linguist, translator and critic.
Best known for his novel A Clockwork Orange, he wrote more than sixty books of fiction, non-fiction and autobiography, as well as classical music, plays, film scripts, essays and articles. A Clockwork Orange is Anthony Burgess’s exploration of violence and free will and their manipulation by the state through psychological treatment administered by the medical establishment.
It arose from Burgess’s abhorrence of the division of society by the establishment into the “well us. Is Alex bored, delinquent, or just purely evil? What has caused him to take such delight in violence? This passage makes us wonder whether he sees it as an art form. B ut Burgess was not merely a social and cultural prophet.
A Clockwork Orange grapples as well with the question of the origin and nature of good and evil. The Ludovico Method that Alex undergoes in prison as a means of turning him into a model citizen in exchange for his release is . Violence and instances of criminality are ubiquitous in A Clockwork Orange.
In just a few chapters, Alex and his entourage have performed every trick in the criminal's book: doing drugs, mugging, robbing, gang fighting, grand theft auto, reckless driving, vandalism, arson, rape, and murder.