A Clockwork Orange

Blake Morrison - Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange (1962)

Published a year before BS Johnson's first novel, Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork Orange had the sort of critical reception innovative novels usually get, at best muted, at worst hostile - 'a nasty little shocker' was one reviewer's verdict. In truth, the ending is more nice than nasty, with the brutal Alex cured of his violence not by drugs or aversion therapy but simply by growing up. Until Stanley Kubrick's film adaptation, the novel remained little-known. But its status as a cult classic is now assured. And for its linguistic brilliance alone - the invention of a droog dialect called Nadsat - it deserves a restrospective Goldsmiths Prize.

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