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2023 | Book

Anthony Burgess, Stanley Kubrick and A Clockwork Orange


About this book

This book brings together a diverse range of contemporary scholarship around both Anthony Burgess’s novel (1962) and Stanley Kubrick’s film, A Clockwork Orange (US 1971; UK 1972). This is the first book to deal with both together offering a range of groundbreaking perspectives that draw on the most up to date, contemporary archival and critical research carried out at both the Stanley Kubrick Archive, held at University of the Arts London, and the archive of the International Anthony Burgess Foundation. This landmark book marks both the 50th anniversary of Kubrick’s film and the 60th anniversary of Burgess’s novel by considering the historical, textual and philosophical connections between the two. The chapters are written by a diverse range of contributors covering such subjects as the Burgess/Kubrick relationship; Burgess’s recently discovered ‘sequel’ The Clockwork Condition; the cold war context of both texts; the history of the script; the politics of authorship; and the legacy of both—including their influence on the songwriting and personas of David Bowie!

Table of Contents

At the time of writing, it is nearly sixty years since the publication of Anthony Burgess’s novel A Clockwork Orange (1962), and it is fifty years since Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation (1971) was released in the US.
Matthew Melia, Georgina Orgill

Anthony Burgess and Stanley Kubrick

Dangerous Arts: The Clash Between Anthony Burgess, Stanley Kubrick, A Clockwork Orange, and the World
When the film A Clockwork Orange opened in 1971, Anthony Burgess said he was “very pleased with the way Kubrick handled my book.” Throughout the film’s ensuing controversy, Burgess defended both his own novel and Kubrick’s adaptation without any distinction between them: both, he felt, were in essence moral parables that shared the similar aspirations. Kubrick, said Burgess, “found remarkable cinematic equivalents for my own literary devices.” However, this good humour towards Kubrick’s film was not to last. Burgess’s increasing resentment even pushed Kubrick to admit he “wish[ed Burgess] would stop being bitchy about it.” This chapter chronicles the changing relationship between Burgess and Kubrick and the complex, ever changing relationship between Burgess, his novel, and Kubrick’s film.
Filippo Ulivieri
“A Major Statement on the Contemporary Human Condition”: Anthony Burgess and the Aftermath of A Clockwork Orange
Anthony Burgess’s responses to A Clockwork Orange took many forms. In 1972, shortly after the release of Stanley Kubrick’s film of A Clockwork Orange, Burgess signed a contract with an American publisher for a non-fiction sequel to his 1962 novel. He proposed to write “a philosophical investigation into la condition humaine” which would develop lines of thought and argument from the novel and apply them to the political realities of the 1970s. The intended book was never completed. Drawing on manuscripts and letters in the archive of the International Anthony Burgess Foundation, I have made a speculative reconstruction of Burgess’s “Clockwork Condition” book, showing the ways in which it connects with Kubrick’s film-making and the culture of the 1970s. Burgess’s critical writing about McLuhan provides another layer of context and meaning around his incomplete manuscript.
Andrew Biswell

Language and Adaptation

Scripting A Clockwork Orange
This chapter offers a survey of the archived script material for A Clockwork Orange. By focusing on the screenplays and the revisions of three different authorial voices, the chapter proposes to consider and chronicle the production histories and adaptive processes of these scripts in relation to both their original source material and Kubrick’s final film. It aims to offer a critical and comparative survey of the changes, revisions and decisions made in turning the novel into a screenplay across three independently authored approaches: Anthony Burgess’s own film script from 1969, its treatment of the author’s own novel and the intersections and divergences from and between other script adaptations including the earlier Terry Southern/ Michael Cooper screenplay (1966) and the ‘Blue Pencil’ script (1970)—Stanley Kubrick’s annotated final draft of the script. In taking this approach, the chapter hopes to offer a detailed understanding of the differing and convergent authorial approaches to adapting the novel. It will be particularly interested in script annotations, aspects of adaptation that were considered but not carried through, and what they reveal about the film as an adaptation.
Matthew Melia
‘The Colours of the Real World Only Seem Really Real When You Viddy Them on the Screen’: The Adaptation of Nadsat in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange
A Clockwork Orange is notable in both its original textual and adapted cinematic forms for its linguistic invention. Both versions prominently feature ‘Nadsat’, an invented anti-language through which the narrator and protagonist Alex conveys his story and communicates with others, including the reader. Drawing on our past research in the field, ‘Nadsat’ is composed of different categories which draw on different word-formation principles. We bring corpus (linguistic) techniques to bear and investigate the ways in which Kubrick approached the challenge of bringing Nadsat to the screen. This essay offer an analytic and linguistic study of the film’s appropriation of ‘Nadsat’, and we will show that, while Nadsat remains a prominent aspect of the film, the proportion of unfamiliar core Nadsat items is greatly reduced in an attempt to ensure that the language of the film retains its distinctive flavour without overburdening the audience with unfamiliar items.
Benet Vincent, Jim Clarke
“Language, Language”: The Social Politics of ‘Goloss’ in Time for a Tiger and A Clockwork Orange
Anthony Burgess’s Alex alters his voice or ‘goloss’ according to the effect he wishes to have on his interlocutor, insists on language supremacy over his ‘droogs’, and judges everyone he meets by how they speak. Alex’s acts of deception depend on his ability to imitate others’ language usage but he gets arrested when his preferred ‘Nadsat’ is recognised by one of his victims. It is not only Alex’s individual speech acts, however, which confront and mock a world controlled by adults, authority, religion, and science; his whole narrative is a non-confession, like classic picaresque novels from Lazarillo de Tormes to Simplicissimus, mixing high and low registers and challenging preconceptions. In this chapter, I consider how the film gives Alex a Lancashire accent and emphasises the story’s class-based British setting. It relates the language politics of A Clockwork Orange to Burgess’s other early fiction, most notably The Malayan Trilogy, and to his interest in linguistics more broadly.
Julian Preece

20th Century Contexts: Architectural, Art Historical and Theoretical Approaches

Art and Violence: The Legacy of Avant-Garde Art in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange
Drawing on both critical and archival research (in particular the design research folders at the Stanley Kubrick archive) this chapter will offer an analysis of the art historical research and theoretical approaches which frame the film, noting how Kubrick offered a highly original upgrade of Burgessʼs novel in which modern art was practically of no relevance. He firmly linked art and violence on at least three different levels, which W. J. T. Mitchell in his 1994 Picture Theory classified as follows: (1) an image can be a weapon of violence without representing it; (2) it may become the object of violence without ever being used as a weapon; and (3) it may represent violence without ever exerting or suffering it. Pornography and propaganda, violence and art became inseparable in both public and private spheres of A Clockwork Orange, making it one of the most controversial films in the history of the twentieth-century cinema.
Dijana Metlić
Architecture and Freedom in A Clockwork Orange
This chapter focuses upon the architectural styles used to signify social collapse in both the novel and the film of A Clockwork Orange. The novel depicts a world of crumbling slums where overcrowding and decay reflect a corresponding degeneration of the social fabric. The film, by contrast, uses a vandalised brutalist landscape to show a society living in the shadow of failed social engineering. The chapter compares these depictions and analyses their influences. The importance of these variations is situated in the history of architectural theory as it developed between the publication of the novel (1962) and the release of the film (1971). The chapter builds on this to examine the theme of free will. Architecture in A Clockwork Orange is metonymical with social structure, and the question as to whether these supposedly “concrete” forces ultimately determine individual behaviour. Comparison of the texts suggest that Kubrick and Burgess would have answered this question differently.
Joseph Darlington
Glazzies Wide Open: Spectral Torture, Kubrick, and A Clockwork Orange (A Brainie by Fifteen Thinks)
Considerable attention has been paid the graphic depiction of beauty and its antinomies, and much liberal thought has considered the “evil” or “corrosive” effects of screen violence and gore upon social learning. All of this notwithstanding, there is something to be said about the potential of the eye not as an instrument for producing pain and trouble, by way of specific constructions, but as an instrument for receiving them, especially in terms of the complex of sensations (of the “real”) obtaining when someone looks. Is looking itself a torture, by way of the eye? Is the eye a pathway for torture and torment? Considering philosophical, psychoanalytic, and literary theorizations—such as those by Jay and Bataille and Artaud, among others—and roving into a discussion of the vagaries of screen spectatorship seen more broadly, this essay will address the screen-torture-correction passage in Burgess and in Kubrick.
Murray Pomerance

20th Century Contexts: A Clockwork Orange and the Cold War

When Burgess Met the Stilyagi on a White Night: Subcultures, Hegemony and Resistance in the Soviet Roots of A Clockwork Orange’s Droogs
Since its publication in 1962 (and Stanley Kubrick’s transposition in 1971), the dystopic universe of A Clockwork Orange, has intrigued generations of readers and viewers, and Alex’s “Nadsat” has embedded into popular imagination the Anglo-Russian slang of the “Droogs”. Anthony Burgess himself declared that, during his journey through the USSR, he was surprised to discover that there were local youth subcultures just as in the western world. In the USSR, Anthony Burgess met the Stilyagi, the rebel members of a youth subculture, keen on both clothes and music from the western world: how much of them can we find in Alex’s droogs? Taking as a starting point, this subculture developed in the communist Eastern Bloc and using material from the International Anthony Burgess Foundation and the Stanley Kubrick Archive (specifically Burgess’s own notebooks and correspondence as well as archived film scripts) the chapter analyzes affinities and difference between Alex’s world and Stilyagi’s USSR.
Cristian Pasotti
Alex’s Voice in A Clockwork Orange: Nadsat, Sinny and Cold War Brainwashing Scares
Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange was published in 1962, the same year as John Frankenheimer’s The Manchurian Candidate was released. Both feature strange but apparently timely fantasies about the possibilities of brainwashing. In the case of A Clockwork Orange, these include both the Ludovico technique and Nadsat. Burgess denied that Soviet Bloc Totalitarian regimes were implicated in his depiction of brainwashing. However, as Peter Krämer discusses, the larger contemporary narratives about the subject were more ideologically complex. This chapter explores Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange in the light of trans-Atlantic brainwashing scares that emerged in the 1950s and 1960s. The chapter will also comparatively consider Kubrick’s adaptation of the novel noting how the film also delivers a meta-cinematic commentary on the mind-altering powers of cinema itself. Focusing on Alex’s voice and shifts in his language, this chapter addresses a gap in the scholarly literature on the soundtrack of the film, which has so far been dominated by considerations of its music.
Joy McEntee

A Clockwork Orange in 21st Century

A Thing Living, and Not Growing
This chapter uses the Ludovico Technique as a methodology to frame contemporary nightmares of behaviour-altering technologies writ real, arguing that the technique was a precursor to the epochal shift now occurring: the shift from the Anthropocene to the Technocene. We are becoming accustomed to technologies whose primary aim is to adapt and homogenise behaviours. A central theme of A Clockwork Orange, is “[t]he forced marriage of an organism to a mechanism, of a thing living, growing…to a cold, dead artefact.” We are acutely aware of the ramifications of technology, data, and artificial intelligence abused, but if we replace “data” with the physical we substitute the remnants of our actions for our very humanness. The chapter focuses on positions set by Burgess’ writing on morality and free will, and Kubrick’s notes on artificial intelligence and socio-personal isolation. It seeks to determine what we can learn from A Clockwork Orange and its adaptation as cautionary tales in a moment of crisis.
Ajay Hothi
A Clockwork Orange and its Representations of Sexual Violence as Torture: Stanley Kubrick and Francis Bacon
This paper offers a discussion of A Clockwork Orange through the comparative lens of the imagery of both Stanley Kubrick and the British painter Francis Bacon and their representations of the human scream. Screaming imagery is ubiquitous in the work of both and this chapter considers how the scream functions in the film as a response to trauma and sexual violence. It considers the representation of sexual violence committed toward two ageing female bodies: those of Mrs Alexander (Adrienne Corri) and the Catlady (Miriam Karlin) and in doing so also views the film through the prism of the twenty-first century #MeToo movement. The chapter considers the relationship between art and (sexual) violence in both film and novel taking into detailed consideration the adaptive strategies Kubrick took toward the treatment of sexual violence in Burgess’s novel (the ageing of the two young girls at the record store for instance) and by extension reconsider the representation of sexual violence and assault in the novel from a comparative contemporary perspective.
Karen A. Ritzenhoff

Music and A Clockwork Orange

Transforming Variations: Music in the Novel, Film, and Play A Clockwork Orange
A Clockwork Orange came into existence as a novel written by Anthony Burgess published in 1962. Nine years later, this story was brought to the screen by Stanley Kubrick. Fifteen years after that, Burgess adapted his novel for the stage in a so-called “play with music”. Music is a crucial element in all of these versions, yet it functions differently in each of them. It is an important part of the novel’s narrative, but forms a mostly symbolic function since it cannot be heard; the score of the film conforms in some aspects to the conventions of film music, yet in others it transcends these; the music of Burgess’ play diffuses the power of music by allowing all characters to share equally in music-making. In this chapter, I analyze music’s genre-specific functions and contextualize these in the oeuvres of both Burgess and Kubrick, and in the larger areas of classical music in the literature and film.
Christine Lee Gengaro
David Bowie and A Clockwork Orange: Two Sides of the Same Golly
In this chapter, I explore the significance of A Clockwork Orange to David Bowie’s oeuvre. I analyse the ways that both the novel and the film found their way into his live performances, music videos, album covers and various star personae, including Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane and Halloween Jack. I also explore song lyrics that either directly reference the novel and film, or allude to their urban imagery and violent encounters.
Sean Redmond
Anthony Burgess, Stanley Kubrick and A Clockwork Orange
Matthew Melia
Georgina Orgill
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