A Clockwork Orange

Due to the short timescale of this project, being only two weeks, and my ability to read, being as quick as watching a slow-mo of a snail on a windows 98 computer using dial up internet, it was recommended that I use a resource like GradeSaver.

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GradeSaver is one of the top editing and literature sites in the world. They have received international recognition from USAToday, The Guardian (London) and Die Zeit (Germany) as well as many other local papers across the US and UK. GradeSaver creates classic literature study guides and put them on the internet for free. This quickly turned into ClassicNotes, written exclusively by Harvard students. With millions of users each month and over 400 titles, ClassicNotes ranks among the largest academic resources available online.

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After watching the Stanley Kubrick: A Clockwork Orange (1971), Which I thought was a really good watch (even if it was a little disturbing) , I wasn’t convinced I knew enough about the story, and I didn’t want to be 100% reliant on the film when it was based on a book, to started designing already. I decided to go ahead and use GradeSaver online resources to get a better insight into the story and the Authors intentions. I found out loads of details, as predicted, had been left out film. For instance, Alex killing a new inmate in a cell scrap, or the old man with the science books and other elderly people beat Alex up in the library. What really interested me however was Anthony Burgess, almost, obsession with music in the crafting of the book. I already knew that the main character, Alex, was cultured and enjoyed classical music, but to discover that Burgess was heavily influenced not only when writing the story but it’s structure. This is how it reads on GradeSaver – 

Structural Symmetry

Burgess was a great lover of classical music and a composer. He sought to integrate more completely musical techniques into literature, and his main contribution to musical literature in A Clockwork Orange, aside from Alex’s great love for Beethoven and other composers, is the symmetrical arrangement of chapters. The three parts of the novel each contain seven chapters, and the descending chapters of the third part usually reverse the ascending chapters of the first part. The effect of these reversals is highly musical and discordant, and follows a symphonic rise and fall. For instance, Alex delights in a beautiful opera piece about suicide in the Korova Milkbar in Part One, Chapter 3, while he is so tortured by classical music in Part Three, Chapter 5 that he tries to commit suicide. Burgess uses other musical techniques, such as peppering the novel with verbal leitmotifs (i.e. “‘What’s it going to be then, eh?'”), to complement his musical, nadsat-based prose. The philosophical point of the symmetry is to underscore the change Ludovico’s Technique, comprising the middle Part Two, has wrought in Alex’s life. He goes from being the victimizer to victim, willful agent of evil to deterministic subject of good.

This is so interesting and I think I’m going to concentrate on creating my cover design based on it.


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