A previously undiscovered manuscript for a follow up to Anthony Burgess’s ‘A Clockwork Orange’ has been uncovered in the process of cataloguing the writer’s papers.
The manuscript, called The Clockwork Condition, is described by Burgess as a “major philosophical statement on the contemporary human condition”. It provides context for the views on crime, punishment and visual culture explored in his famous novel.
He describes the 1970s as a ‘clockwork inferno’ in which humans function as cogs ‘no longer much like a natural growth, not humanly organic’.
His exploration of the potentially corrupting nature of visual culture within this manuscript reflects on the controversy surrounding Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Burgess ‘A Clockwork Orange’. Following concerns that the film could be an inspiration for copycat violent crimes, Kubrick himself pulled the film from UK cinemas – despite its success in the US leading to it being nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture in 1972.
The manuscript also provides the background for the title, ‘A Clockwork Orange’: "In 1945, back from the army, I heard an 80-year-old Cockney in a London pub say that somebody was 'as queer as a clockwork orange'.
"The 'queer' did not mean homosexual: it meant mad... For nearly twenty years I wanted to use it as the title of something... It was a traditional trope, and it asked to entitle a work which combined a concern with tradition and a bizarre technique."
English applicants can use this to reflect on how the philosophical work of a writer might affect our interpretation of their work. They might also consider to what extent a writer’s intention can be separable from the actual impact of their writing, and come to their own conclusion on the value of this newly discovered manuscript for literary criticism on Burgess’s work.