I don’t know how the 30th anniversary of the novel was celebrated in Burgess’ country of birth – all I can remember is that 1992 was the year I read it for the first time. It was something I had never experienced before: the beauty of violence, the power of music, the questions of free will and state control, all brought up (in both senses of the word) by a delinquent hero you felt you should despise but couldn’t help liking. It was fascinating to watch the cogs of that orange grind: Alex and his droogs, starry vecks they beat up and devotchkas they raped, and all that horrorshow. Alas, none of the words which, together with some elements of cockney and Romany, make the book the bold linguistic experiment that it is, came as a novelty to me: they were given their native spelling and mixed with other, equally mundane ones, for the only version I could get my hands on back then, in the post-perestroika Moscow, was Russian. Another ten years later, when I finally picked up an English copy, I felt short-changed: it turned out that we, Your Humble Narrator and her droogies, had been robbed of all the inventions of the original.
Anna Aslanyan reviews the restored edition of Anthony Burgess‘ A Clockwork Orange.