Best 1962 Adventures (8)

By: Joshua Glenn
September 6, 2017

One in a series of 10 posts identifying Josh Glenn’s favorite 1962 adventure novels. Happy 55th anniversary!


Alex: "yarbles, bolshy great yarblockos to thee and thine"

Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange (1962).

Communicating partially in contemporary English (including Cockney rhyming slang), partially in Shakespearean English, and partially in a Russian-influenced argot called “nadsat,” our narrator and protagonist is a sociopathic 15-year-old hoodlum, living in near-future London. “There’s only one veshch I require,” explains Alex, “having my malenky bit of fun with real droogs.” When he’s not enjoying Beethoven, Alex and his droogs indulge in “ultra-violence” including sexual assault. Sent to prison, where neither the state nor the church succeeds in reforming him, Alex volunteers to undergo the Ludovico Technique, a punishing form of aversion therapy that conditions him to be good… or, at least, not bad. But at what cost? Has Alex become, in the words of one character, a “clockwork orange” — that is, a mechanized semblance of nature? In the end, amazingly, we actually feel pity for evil Alex.

Fun fact: Written in three weeks, A Clockwork Orange has been named by Modern Library one of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. It was adapted as a brilliant 1971 movie by Stanley Kubrick.


Let me know if I’ve missed any 1962 adventures that you particularly admire.


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