Cover art of the first edition of Burgess’s most famous work
Cover art of the first edition of Burgess’s most famous work

An unfinished manuscript by Anthony Burgess, exploring the social and moral panic caused by his novel A Clockwork Orange and its film adaptation, was recently found among papers abandoned at his home in Italy during the 1970s. The papers had been archived at the Burgess Foundation in Manchester and came to light during cataloguing.

Built on a premise of extreme, senseless violence in youth sub­culture, A Clockwork Orange was published in 1962. About 10 years later, it was turned into a critically and commercially successful film by Stanley Kubrick. However, accusations of inspiring acts of copycat violence compelled Kubrick to have it removed from cinemas.

A Clockwork Condition — comprising 200 pages’ worth of notes, outlines and drafts — reveals Burgess’s views on crime and punishment and also explains, among other things, how he came up with the book’s title; he first heard the phrase in 1945 when “an 80-year-old Cockney in a London pub [said] that somebody was ‘as [mad] as a clockwork orange’.”

Published in Dawn, Books & Authors, May 5th, 2019