The International Anthony Burgess Foundation

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Fifty Years of A Clockwork Orange: the exhibition

Anthony Burgess’s dystopian novel, A Clockwork Orange, celebrates its fiftieth birthday in 2012. To mark the anniversary, the International Anthony Burgess Foundation is holding a new exhibition on the history of A Clockwork Orange at the John Rylands Library, Manchester, in collaboration with the Stanley Kubrick Archive at the University of the Arts, London.

What's it going to be then, eh?

A Clockwork Orange received mixed reviews on publication. The Times Literary Supplement disliked ‘the author’s language and questionable taste’, and the New Statesmen found the novel ‘a great strain to read’. Conversely, The New York Herald Tribune argued that ‘Burgess’s language echoes deeply within the reader’s psyche to stir the mind, the eye, and the ear with profound impact’, and Time Magazine saw the work as a ‘serious and successful moral essay’.

Anthony Burgess’s novel centres upon the raw passions of music, art, and violence in the young, and stresses the danger of stifling free will and the creative urge for the sake of obedience to the State. The moral message of the text; the distinctiveness of the Anglo-Russian Nadsat language; the dress, drug use and artful violence of the droogs, and the novel’s captivating anti-hero, Alex, combine to make A Clockwork Orange a persistently popular read. A Clockwork Orange has been continuously in print all over the world since it appeared in May 1962.

The exhibition will look at the history and impact of the novel, examining the way in which A Clockwork Orange outgrew itself – becoming a Stanley Kubrick film, a stage play with music, and a focus for debate about youth, authority, evil, and the nature of free will.

‘Fifty Years of A Clockwork Orange’runs from 20 August 2012 to 27 January 2013 at the John Rylands Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester. Admission is free and the exhibition is open daily.

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