A Clockwork Orange: ultraviolence, Russian spies and fake news

On the centenary of Anthony Burgess’s birthday, Philip Seargeant delves into his famous work ‘A Clockwork Orange’ and dystopia in popular culture.

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A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess. Simon Zirkunow/Flickr, CC BY

Violence and catharsis

Not only does A Clockwork Orange explore a society overrun by random acts of recreational violence but Burgess also includes a scene in which an unnamed writer is attacked and forced to watch while his wife is raped. In his introduction to the novel, Blake Morrison suggests that writing this was a form of catharsis for Burgess — although later in his life Burgess spoke of the dejection he felt at the accusations that his artwork was some sort of promo glamorising violence.

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