A Clockwork Orange
By Anthony Burgess
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A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess ranked # 65 on The Modern Library's Top 100 Novels list as selected by its Board Members.
A Clockwork Orange is a speculative fiction novel by Anthony Burgess, published in 1962 and later the basis for the 1971 film by Stanley Kubrick.
It is one of Burgess's 'terminal novels', written to provide posthumous income for his wife after Burgess was allegedly diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour.
Burgess wrote that the title was a reference to an alleged old Cockney expression 'as queer as a clockwork orange'. Due to his time serving in the British Colonial Office in Malaya, Burgess thought that the phrase could be used punningly to refer to a mechanically responsive (clockwork) human (orang, Malay for 'person'). Burgess wrote in his later introduction, A Clockwork Orange Resucked, that a creature who can only perform good or evil is 'a clockwork orange - meaning that he has the appearance of an organism lovely with colour and juice, but is in fact only a clockwork toy to be wound up by God or the Devil or (since this is increasingly replacing both) the Almighty State'. The Italian title, Un'Arancia Ad Orologeria, was interpreted to refer to a grenade.
In his essay "Clockwork Oranges", Burgess asserts that 'this title would be appropriate for a story about the application of Pavlovian, or mechanical, laws to an organism which, like a fruit, was capable of colour and sweetness'. This title alludes to the protagonist's negatively conditioned responses to feelings of evil which prevent the exercise of his free will.
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