Final extracts from the 2012 Burgess Lecture by Dominic Sandbrook, talking about A Clockwork Orange and 1960s and 1970s culture.
This extract tries to identify precisely what had changed between the releases of Burgess’s book and Kubrick’s film, and describes some of the dystopian aspects of 1970s. ‘Britain in 1972 was a lot closer to Burgess’s vision than it had been in 1962 … The age of stagflation was at hand, unemployment had gone above one million for the first time since the 1930s … Exactly a month after the release of [the film of] A Clockwork Orange the government banned the use of electricity for heating shops, offices, restaurants – and cinemas.’ Click the player to find out more about the rise in crime, football violence, and how, as the Sunday Express put it in February 1972, ‘the traditions of British civility had fallen victim to people with no other purpose in mind than to bash, beat up, break, scar and smash, just for the kick of doing it.’
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And here is Dominic Sandbrook’s conclusion, in which he discusses the omission of Burgess’s final chapter by Kubrick in his film; and makes the case that the issues at the centre of the novel A Clockwork Orange – ‘teenage violence, sexual excess, law and order, crime and punishment, the state and the individual, good and evil, free will and coercion’ – have not gone away, even today.
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Yet more about A Clockwork Orange can be found around this website, and also at our exhibition ‘Fifty Years Of A Clockwork Orange’ which runs until 27 January 2013 at the John Rylands Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester (open daily, free entry).