A CLOCKWORK ORANGE AND BLACK
Anthony Burgess has bookshelves which sag under what looks like a story of blistering success: more than thirty novels, many published to international critical acclaim; dozens of non-fiction titles, from a discursive study of beds to a two-volume, 1,200-page history of English literature, written in Italian; the long entry for the Novel in the Encyclopaedia Britannica; librettos and musical scores: symphonies, song settings, sonatas; translations into and out of English; screenplays, documentaries and lectures; and countless reviews, thousands and thousands of them, a sample to be found in two collections, Urgent Copy (1968) and Homage to Qwert Yuiop (1986). Penguin have awarded modern classic status to Earthly Powers (1980) and A Clockwork Orange (1962). The latter owes its fame to Stanley Kubrick's brutal, stylish film. The musical score of this film insinuated itself into my psyche quite unbeknownst to my waking self. -Ron Price with thanks to Roger Lewis, Anthony Burgess: A Life, 2004.
As I come to my late adulthood
I look back to 1962
as the year of great beginnings,
not that I knew it at the time.
I did not know much then, at 18
as the world came close to the edge
of giving it all to the cockroaches.
Was it Kennedy who saved us in October?
Was Clockwork Orange a wake-up call
to a new anti-utopian world
of violence and state control
emerging, then, as I struggled
to control a embryonically massive id
that was exercising its own control?
I did not know, then, busy as I was
trying to pass nine grade 13 subjects
in my last months of freedom before
a bi-polar disorder rushed into my life
with its own controlling factor,
its own clockwork orange and black,
its own violence, emotional disarray
and a fear and confusion as deep as
the one you portrayed Anthony/Stanley.
16 April 2004