Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe
This zonk was ringliddy foodla and I couldn’t stop nopping the doodlewotsit.
A great idea written in gibberish is still gibberish. The real shame is, when you wade through the drivel (or ‘Nadsat’), there’s actually a very interesting concept. Still topical to this day, it’s obvious why Burgess’ best known offering has endured. Trapped in a senseless routine of violence and rape, Alex is eventually incarcerated and forced to undergo a radical government treatment programme of aversion therapy.
Orange is the sort of book that, once you’ve read it, you’ll want to talk about it. Is the desensitising of society leading us into an Alex-esque orgy of sex and violence that the participants take no joy from because beating seven bells out of a random passerby is the upcoming equivalent of drumming one’s fingers on the desk? And do you deal with a sociopath?
There’s similarities with American Psycho in Alex’s thirst to feel something authentic, albeit distasteful. They both fall back on sex and violence with increasing extremity to replicate their highs in the way drug addicts pursue the potency of their first hit. The Burgess piece forms a circle whereas Ellis’s was more a gradient; the parallels between the first and third act of Orange are satisfying.
The final chapter was famously removed from American editions to give them an ending more suited to their pallet. Actually, the final chapter is fundamental. It highlights the books message where the penultimate chapter would erase it.
Orange more gritty and, yes, British than American Psycho; it’s faster paced and less dreary than Nineteen Eighty Four and harder hitting than Animal Farm. Its downfall really is that bloody made up language. It takes so much perseverance to get through what is a relatively short book because of it, and there’s no need. You have to battle so hard to make sense of it that it’s like a mesh, distracting you a little from what’s going on. Depending on who you ask, Nadsat is intended to soften the blow because the unpleasantness isn’t described in graphic English, or to worsen the impact because your imagination can be relied on to be more disturbing. It makes nothing authentic, as some would claim. A good book immerses you in the world it’s set in, but Nadsat reminds you with every sentence that you’re very much on the outside looking in.