A Clockwork Orange, first American edition


A Clockwork Orange is a dystopian novella by Anthony Burgess, first published in 1962. Set in a near future where youth violence thrives and punishment is meted out by a totalitarian state, the novel addresses human nature, morality, politics, and authority. It is narrated by Alex, the 15-year-old leader among a gang of ‘droogs’ – adolescent criminals who terrorise citizens with rape, hard drugs and ‘ultra-violence’. Sentenced for murder, Alex undergoes an experimental aversion therapy known as ‘Ludovico’s Technique’ before being released back into society, supposedly cured.

The novel is renowned for Burgess’s linguistic inventiveness. Burgess, who was born and raised in Manchester, drew on a range of influences including Russian, Cockney rhyming slang and Manchester dialect to form a teenage slang called ‘nadsat’ (Russian for ‘teen’) that is used by Alex and his gang.

Shown here is the American edition published in 1963, with cover art by Larry Turin. Controversially, the American edition was published without the final chapter, in which Alex chooses to reject violence using free-will.

In 1971 Stanley Kubrick adapted A Clockwork Orange for film. Although the film was a commercial success, its scenes of brutal violence sparked outrage among the British public. In 1974 the film was withdrawn from distribution in Britain. It was only screened again in 2000 after Kubrick’s death.

For more information, explore resources on A Clockwork Orange provided by The International Anthony Burgess Foundation.

Full title:
A Clockwork Orange
1963, New York, US
W W Norton
Book / Illustration / Image
Anthony Burgess, Larry Turin
Usage terms

© The International Anthony Burgess Foundation. Published under a Creative Commons Non-Commercial Licence.

Held by
British Library

Full catalogue details

Related articles

An introduction to A Clockwork Orange

Article by:
Roger Luckhurst

A Clockwork Orange has had a huge influence on popular culture, but interpretations of the work often fail to take into account the novel's religious and instructive message. Roger Luckhurst explores how the novel has escaped its author's control.

Freedom or oppression? The fear of dystopia

Article by:
Mike Ashley
Power and conflict, Visions of the future

Mike Ashley considers how British, Russian and American writers created repressive imaginary worlds and totalitarian regimes in order to explore 20th-century political concerns.

An introduction to Crash

Article by:
Roger Luckhurst
Literature 1950–2000, Visions of the future

The subject and style of Crash has shocked and disturbed readers since its publication. Roger Luckhurst describes the writing and reception of J G Ballard's controversial novel.

Related collection items

Related works


Created by: J G Ballard

Crash is a novel by the British writer J G Ballard, published in 1973. Three years earlier, Ballard had staged a ...


Created by: J G Ballard

High-Rise is the final book in a quartet of novels by J G Ballard, each of which is seeded in the previous one. ...