‘What’s it going to be then, eh?’ – Anthony Burgess reads A Clockwork Orange

One of the challenges of reading A Clockwork Orange is forgetting the Kubrick film and imagining your own version. Malcolm McDowell’s performance as Alex can be particularly hard to shift—charismatic, savage, cruel and often very funny—his voice echoes uncannily through the text.

But is the Alex of Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange one and the same with the Alex of Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange? In this recording from 1973, a few short years after the film came out, the author reads the opening chapter of his novel. Burgess plunges into the rhythms and cadences of Nadsat, his invented futuristic slang, and gives not just a reading but a fully-formed performance. Interestingly, he hears his narrator with a heavy Mancunian accent and the tone of an older man explaining how it was in the old days.

It’s on SoundCloud, courtesy of Harper Audio, so you might need to create a free account to listen and should you find yourself wishing to skip the intro, the reading begins at 1:52.

We will be discussing A Clockwork Orange on Thursday 10 February and you can book your free tickets via Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/cardiff-booktalk-a-clockwork-orange-registration-224572912627

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