Classic novel does not fail to disappoint new reader

A Clockwork Orange is the book that many people’s nightmares are made of. With horrendously vivid descriptions of rape and murder, this book is not meant for the easily queasy. Why am I reviewing this horrorshow book? I mean it did come out in 1962, so why bring it up now? Well, when the novel was released in the states, a final chapter was cut, and therefore cut from the Stanley Kubrick movie. I got my hands on a copy of the original story at Book People and found the lost British chapter that author Anthony Burgess so adamantly fought for.

Our narrator is Alex Delarge, a 15-year-old gang ringleader living in a futuristic dystopian society where the teenagers rule the night with excessively violent tendencies. After a home invasion goes awry, Alex is caught by the police and sent to “staja,” or state prison. After a sour turn of events, he is chosen for a caustic new reform system. And basically all hell is released unto him.

In the introduction added to the new edition, Burgess claims it was an American publishing house’s conditions that forced it to remove the final chapter. The publisher claims otherwise, but whatever really happened is not too terribly important.

Here is a short recap of what happens in the American ending: after being hospitalized for injuries from a brutal suicide attempt, our narrator is released from the hospital and is ready to reenter the world and get back to his old tricks. The British ending follows this with a passage about Alex and his new crew of droogies (friends) hanging out in his old haunts, attacking a man on his way to a diner. In said diner, Alex runs into one of his old friends, Pete, who is with his wife. After talking to them, he suddenly realizes he is ready to grow up and start over.

I am partial to the brutal ending as opposed to the cliché hopeful ending of growing up and ending the violence. I respect Burgess’ insistence of bringing the original ending to America, but honestly, the British ending didn’t feel the same as the American one. But, reading the original conclusion is worth a chance because it gives the Kubrick fans of this work a whole new perspective on life and the meaning of this beautifully terrifying work of art.