A Clockwork Orange (Norton Critical Editions) - Anthony Burgess, Mark Rawlinson I read *A Clockwork Orange* mostly unspoiled, without any idea about the plot and a vague memory that someone had told me Kubrick's film was difficult to understand. The high level of graphic violence in the first part of the book was a shock to me. While all of the violence and rape is described in the near-futuristic slang of the book called "Nadsat," I have always been good at picking up different dialects and didn't feel the language truly shielded me from the horror of the events that the very young Alex was orchestrating. It was all I could do to move on to parts 2 and 3 of the book that involve Alex's subsequent imprisonment and the interesting sequence of adventures that ensue when he convinces the authorities to use him as test subject for a state-sponsored reformation program called "The Ludovico Technique." The program messes with Alex's mind and neuters his spark, removing both his ability to commit violence but also accidentally his ability to enjoy music. Aside from some of the playful words Burgess coins in "Nadsat" and the interesting parallelism in the novel, it is in the philosophical questions that arise about free will and whether or not the rest of society isn't just as brutal as Alex, in their own way, that are the strongest points of this book. This edition includes Burgess' final twenty-first chapter which was excluded from the American edition, and while I see what he was trying to say with it, I unfortunately found it unbelievable as the turn doesn't follow naturally if you are paying attention to Alex's true character. Norton's critical edition is definitely worth all of the additional commentary and analyses that provide a context of the different ways that the novel (and Kubrick's film) have been reviewed and interpreted.