Another Clockwork orange question

This is one of the few books I haven’t read. My youngest son is in the middle of reading it. He found a small post it note stuck to the last page that says “Burgess final chapter has been ommitted from this book by the U.S. publisher. You may want to get that to complete the story”. WTF?:confused:

Having never read the book, I don’t know what to tell him. Was the U.S. version of the book altered? Censored?:eek:

Why is this in the book in the form of a post it note? Is someone trying to screw with my kids head? What’s the dope?

Wow, you’ve got a first American edition, it seems. I wrote a paper on Clockwork Orange years ago and was pleasantly surprised at the depth of the story. The last chapter is utterly crucial to a proper understanding of alex’s transformation. It would be like reading the story of the crucification, and skipping the part about the resurrection. :slight_smile: I hope your son finds the more important message behind the glossy violence portrayed in the movie. IMHO, go out and get a unexpurgated edition. (I love that word).

Visit for some more info.

If your son is looking for a topic for his paper, this subject makes perfect sense. Why is the last chapter particularly important to an understanding of the novel as a whole?

BTW, that link given by evilhanz also has one of my favorite classical pieces as background, even if that’s not a particularly good rendering of it.

What’s curious is that THIS particular piece of censorship makes the work darker and more nihilistic. They cut out a chapter where Alex renounces his amoral past, not an ultimate piece of nastiness that was just too far over the top. You find many accounts of the fact that it was cut out and what the chapter was, but not why.

My own WAG would be that an American publisher simply thought it played better with the nihilistic ending, and didn’t have enough respect for Burgess not to mess with it. This was an age when America was very taken with the idea of the antihero, after all, and traditional morality was being strongly questioned. Having a character like Alex repent might have seemed, well, a cop-out. Some critics concur that they find the final chapter weak, but that doesn’t excuse trampling on the author’s intent.

I would suggest that if the life of Christ were modern fiction somebody might, indeed, suggest that they lose the ressurection. You don’t need the story whimpering on after the logical climax. Or they’d have a fade-to-black at the empty tomb to set up the sequel.

Unfortunately, I believe Kubric actually didn’t know about that final chapter which is why it’s not in the movie.

Here’s a question: in the newer American release, they have the chapter but omit the glossary. What’s up with that?

From the same site above:

A word like “rape” has enormous negative connotations for the reader, as well it should, and quite a lot of societal baggage. Nadsat helps Burgess shield us from the harsh reality of what Alex and the gang are up to, to probe at the more subtle motivations and meanings. A glossary for Nadsat, is like a bad translation from Japanese. Just knowing what the words mean doesn’t help you understand the author’s intent.

I’ve read the book twice and seen the movie, and I thought that the 20 chapter version raised a lot more questions than the other one.

If Alex is cured to be a good member of society, but only by a cruel act of brainwashing, is he truly a good member of society? Was it worth it? What does our society value-the good behavior or the free choice? Which side is it better to err on?

I hope this isn’t a simplistic analysis of the book. I’ve never really studied it as such.

I found the 21st chapter somewhat unnerving, because these characters who committed such atrocities were living lives as normal law-abiding citizens, probably without their neighbors suspecting. It made you wonder what kinds of things the people around you did as teenagers.

I’m not too big a fan of the final chapter. I don’t think it adds anything much to the story. The book is much tighter without it.

While it may have been wrong to cut it out of the American version, as an editing decision, it was a good one.

I didnt read the book but I bought the video as soon as they put captions on it. Its still for rent in the stores.

It seemed clear to me that Burgess’s intent was to show that part of what makes us human is our ability to choose between good and evil, and that to deprive another human being of this free will (even in order to force him to perform “good” acts) is wrong.

It is crucial that Alex have the ability to choose to do good. If this were not a choice he could possibly make, then the government would have been right to modify his behavior through brainwashing. Burgess had to show that Alex could choose good over evil. The best way to do that was to have Alex reform of his own free will, and that’s what the 21st chapter is about.

I disagree. To argue for free will over conditioning in the case of a truly evil person is a considerably more interesting argument. The book without the last chapter (which I’ve never read, BTW) and movie both strike me as saying that free will is such an utterly human condition that to deprive one of it is evil. If you want to argue whether a good person should have free will, or instead should have his will conditioned by the government, the argument is trivial; of course he should have free will, the message is essentially empty and of no significance. To make an argument for free will, one must necessarily touch on the baser aspects of humanity to have a truly meaningful message.

Of course, then you can also view the story on two different levels, as well. Did Alex even have free will to begin with? Or was he already a clockwork orange, conditioned towards violence by an inhuman, technology oriented society?

The message is much more interesting without the final chapter, IMHO.

I think there can be little doubt that one of Burgess’s main ideas in “ACO” is “depriving people of their free will is wrong and can only dehumanize them”. I also think that this message falls apart if there is any doubt as to whether Alex has free will. If he has free will then he should be capable of choosing to reform. This need not necessarily be the choice that he makes, but if it is a choice that he cannot make then he does not have free will. If Alex doesn’t have free will the whole book is just a meaningless tale of an inherently evil boy doing evil things while speaking in an unusual dialect.

Point taken, though I’m not sure that having access to the definitions significantly decreases the book’s effectiveness. When I first read it I only used the glossary very sparingly at times when I felt I really needed it. It wouldn’t be fun to keep flipping to the back for every word you come across that you don’t know, and at least 90% of the time you can figure it out.

Anyway, this discussion sounds interestly familar to the great philosophical discussions of free will in heaven (but perhaps we’d better not go there).

My $.02? I agree with Lamia. To make a statement about freewill vs. conditioning (using examples), you must show a true example of freewill, otherwise you have one type of conditioning (be it genetic or environmental) vs. another type. I liked the last chapter and felt it was important but (I haven’t read it in awhile so I can’t be specific about what I mean) I remeber thinking it could’ve
been more subtle. It seemed Burgess went out of his way in the last chapter to make his point very clear to the audience, and I think we could’ve been trusted to get it given a lot less. Now that I’m thinking about it, it did actually soften the effect for me.

The final chapter isn’t part of the book. It was actually written a few years after the book was orininally published due to concern by numerous people (mainly the publishers) about the level of violence in the book. Burgess was asked to either cut some of the violence, or have the character turn out ‘good’. He decided not to cut any of it, but instead to write a final chapter and leave it up to readers to decide whether or not they will read it.

Personally, I never do.

I’ll see if I can locate where I read this…

And as to that story about it making up three lots of seven - turn it up! The final chapter is a fourth section all by itself, evidenced in the first seven words: “What’s it going to be then, eh?”. Each section of the book starts with those words.

Whoops… looks like I’m wrong. Ignore me please.

The last chapter still sucks though and the book’s better without it.

Let’s keep in mind that at the onset on the novel, Alex is a 15 year old boy. Part of free will and responsibilty comes with growing up, no?

Alex was an adolescent who commited atrocities fitting an adult. Like today, he was punished as an adult. I don’t presume to know what Burgess’ intent was, but I always thought the the aspect of him visualizing himself having a child in the final chapter was very significant of his crossing into adulthood.

I also think that part of the evil of the conditioning he suffered was that it was inflicted on a child, perhaps incapable of understanding the full consequence of his actions.

And I agree with Lamia that when Alex regains his free will, he must choose. Regardless of your opinion as to how he should choose, the edited version is obviously castrated.

I guess your preferred ending may stongly jibe with your opinion on the philosophical debate over whether man is inherently good or evil.