A Clockwork Orange: The Novel.

I have my dog-eared copy from 1972, published soon after the film was released. While walking through a book store last month, I found a new paperback edition right up front near the entrance. It touted the inclusion of the previously unpublished 21st chapter.

Apparently in England, all 21 chapters as written by Burgess were published from the time it first went into print. In the United States, for reasons not articulated fully in Burgess’ “new” forward entitled "A Clockwork Orange Resucked ", his novel lacked the final chapter.

To say that this changes everything is a bit of an understatement. I was glad to plop down my money that would go to his heirs ( Burgess is dead ), so that I could revisit a book that frightened and moved me as a teen- and learn how it was supposed to end.

What would possess a publisher to delete the last chapter of any book? Certainly this novel’s redemption hinges on that last chapter.

In an annoying twist, this new publication has the missing 21st chapter but lacks the glossary of Nadsat terms included in the back of my 1972 edition. This is like working the Talmud- I need two books to read one book. This complete Nadsat Lexicon ******* allows those who have only purchased the new printing to make use of a glossary of the terms.

Who has read this new American edition ?


******* This link is to a Wikkipedia page that carefully defines the words used in the book, including their closest Russian derivation/ synonymous meaning. i know there is a stricture against copying complete copywrighted works but in the case of this glossary, since it is only a link, I hope it is permitted so that Dopers who don’t have access to older printings of the novel can use the glossary.

The American publisher liked the book better without the last chapter because it made the book more cynical and hard-boiled. Whether that improves the book at all is obviously a matter of personal taste, though it was certainly Burgess’ intent that Alex’s mundane redemption should be the ultimate destination of the book, serving as a counterpoint to the false redemption inflicted by the Ludovico Technique’s destruction of free will.

What I’ve heard (and I can’t verify that it’s true) is that at the time, the American publisher didn’t think the American public would buy a ‘happy ending’ for the book, and wanted to end it on the grimmer note. Apparently there was something of a vogue for ‘realistic’ bleakness in entertainment during the 1970s.

The glossary is not needed. Burgess was clever enough to make all the words clear in context. You can understand it perfectly well without a glossary (which was how it was originally published).

Anthony’s explanation for the switch, from the introduction of later editions:

That quote really made an impression on me.

In the same introduction, he defends the last chapter stating that it is just as unrealistic to conclude that a man can’t change for the better and mature as it is to slap a happy pollyana ending onto every story. I found that defense somewhat inspirational.

It’s been a while since I read it, but it struck me that leaving off the last chapter is what makes it a real discussion starter. Is it better to have Alex as a criminal, or a chemically lobotomized nice-guy? What value do we place on free will? Would we be willing to take others’ entire free will to get what we want? To what level would we take that?

Of course, jail is taking someone’s free will, anyway…

I recall a scene in the novel where Alex has a dream: He sees a vision of Beethoven – giant head, hair flowing in the wind – while a choir sings to the tune of the Joy Ode:

Boy, thou uproarious shark of Heaven
Slaughter of Elysium
Hearts on fire, aroused, enraptured
We will tolchok you on the rot
And kick your grazny, vonny bum

I wonder why Kubrick didn’t do anything with that?

I’ve been wanting to read this. I hear it’s better than the movie. And I know of people who prefer it without the glossary because they can figure the words out on their own.

I agree. Besides, I just found the last chapter unbelievable. Why would someone so deeply evil just get bored with it? And do men crave babies like that? (I’ve heard that women do, but even that strains my imagination a bit.)

I really enjoyed the book, but I wonder if I’d have persevered if I hadn’t seen the movie first. As it is, many of the words now have a permanent place in my unspoken vocabulary.

Cardinal –

The last chapter you are familiar with is not the “missing chapter.” Americans read it all the way up to Alex being returned to his “normal” sociopathic state and cutting a deal with the Government while the British last chapter has (or so I’ve heard) Alex outgrowing his reckless youth and settling in as a typical middle-class bloke, just like his fathers before him.

Now I need to dig up my dog-eared copy and re-read it again.

I used to hate the original ending (Chapter 21?) then I started to get into my 30s and started to see how a lot of my previous behaviours were shed in place of looking to settle down and have a family and suddenly it began to make some sense.

Yes, I know the criminal mind is likely to remain criminal but I always saw Alex and his droogs violence as part of the youth culture of novel as just an outside group. Perhaps teh mundane change is more realistic especially when he find himself feeling ridiculous hanging around younger kids.

I first read it in my early teens 25+ years ago. It was the American 20 chapter version. I didn’t even hear about the 21st chapter till about 10 years later when I couldn’t find my copy and checked it out of the library.

It seemed like an unnecessary epilogue to me. It didn’t jar or go against the 20 previous chapters, but I didn’t really think it added much to the story. And at the time, I knew plenty of 25 year olds who were still basically the same 15 year old worthless assholes they had been, so while I think such personal growth is certainly possible, I don’t think it’s inevitable the way Burgess seemed to be implying.

As an aside, I was personally responsible for getting one of my high school teachers to remove Mrs. Dalloway from his Brit Lit curriculum, and replace it with A Clockwork Orange, though sadly it was the semester after I took his class. I still regard that as one of the great accomplishments of my youth.

You’re just discovering the missing chapter? That’s been in print in the US since the late '80’s! Btw, Burgess did a great “interview” w/ “Alex” for the NYT Review of Books soon before the restored edition came out.

The Nadsat dictionary was added by the U.S. publisher in the early 1960’s to help readers along, over the objections of Burgess, who thought that deciphering it was part of the game for the reader.

It doesn’t sound as if he got bored as much as he just got tired. With his extremely high threshhold for excitement and thrills, Alex had been running in ultra-high gear for most of his life, and at 18, his juice just ran out. I actually found that more poignant and believable. He didn’t get wiser or smarter or discover his long-lost morals. He just burned out. His batteries died.

And no, I don’t think normal men crave babies quite like that, but then again, Alex isn’t a normal man. It might not even be babies he’s craving but the normal slower-paced life which raising a baby seems to entail. Don’t forget that we don’t actually get to see if this plan works out. For all we know, Alex slips right back into his life of crime.

Not the '70s. My paperback US copy is from circa 1960 (long before Kubrick’s film), and it lacks the last chapter, too.

I’ve only read the 21 chapter version. I can’t imagine the book without it. Of course the symbolic number 21, becoming an adult, works very well. But Alex must choose to ‘be good’ on his own. It can’t be forced upon either by punishment or by brain washing.

I agree wholeheartedly. And hey, I found the Glossary to be mighty helpful, ok ?? I was only 12 or so when I read it !!! ( the local used book store dealer was quite the believer in self-discovery and not censoring materials by age. He sold me The Hite Report on Female Sexuality when I was 14. :smiley: )

Yes, FriarTed, I’m only now discovering the lost chapter because I haven’t gone out of my way to find another printing of the book- I knew I had my old one on the shelf if I wanted to re-read it. It was only the placement of this printing in the bookstore that made me stop and pick it up.

NYT Review of Books, eh? I’d love to read that interview.

No, I know what you’re talking about. My point is that the redemptive 21st chapter may make the book less jarring and less of a point-maker. If the last thing we see is Alex returned to an independent state, coupled with the shock that he’s liable to return to his old ways, we have a set of contradictory feelings that make us ask what our real morals are in the situation.

I admit I don’t remember much about the missing chapter. Do you all find it to clearly make the point that Alex has changed, but only through his own growth/tiredness/whatever, and that the government’s efforts were misguided and doomed? Does it not have a bit of an “oh, everything’s all right then, let’s go out for ice cream after the movie” feeling?

Well, having read this summary: http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/clockworkorange/section21.rhtml, I admit that Burgess may have a point. At the time I read it, long ago, I did not get the point about Alex growing up and being redeemed only because he was given back his free will. I see on a couple pages that Burgess was trying to make a very Christian point, and was hurt that some Christian groups thought he was trying to glorify violence. So the point overall is that free will is the only thing that allows for real personal growth and redemption? I can see that. Any other comments?

Small children sometimes tear the wings off flies. Usually – without undergoing any perceptible moral conversion – they simply outgrow it, lose interest in it. Probably before the age of 12. With some of us, the process takes a bit longer.