50 Books To Read Before You Die

A Clockwork Orange

Author: Anthony Burgess
Released: 1962
Genre: Dystopian fiction

How demanding of a read is Anthony Burgess' futuristic look at criminal reform, A Clockwork Orange? Most modern editions include a dictionary in order for readers to decipher every strange, unintelligible bit of slang that Burgess sprinkles throughout.

The extra work required from its readers aside, A Clockwork Orange is perhaps pop culture's greatest indictment of governmental treatment of prisoners. Its despicable protagonist, Alex, who rapes women and torments homeless people with his fellow "droogs," undergoes a cruel and unusual punishment that turns him into a softie repulsed by even the slightest inkling to engage in "ultra-violence."

Like Stanley Kubrick's pitch-perfect 1971 movie adaptation, Burgess' novel drops you into a familiar yet largely foreign world where morality is flimsy, payback seriously is a bitch, and Beethoven's Ninth is an unnverving trouble-starter.

Fun Fact: To create the characters' made-up language, which Burgess dubbed Nadsat, the author combined Slavic words with Russian dialect and his own, self-made gobbledygook.

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