A Clockwork Orange: a Critical Analysis

1890 Words Dec 15th, 2005 8 Pages
Nadsat Language in A Clockwork Orange
Anthony Burgess's writing style in his most famous novel, A Clockwork Orange, is different to say the least. This novel is praised for its ingenuity, although many are disturbed by Burgess's predictions for the future. However, for many, it is close to impossible to comprehend without outside help. This is because Burgess created a language specifically for this novel, called Nadsat. This Russian-based language forms conversations between the narrator, Alex, and his teenage, delinquent friends. There are many assumptions as to why Burgess chose to complicate A Clockwork Orange by filling it with the confusing Nadsat language. Some opinions are that the language shows A Clockwork Orange readers
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Burgess chose to use Nadsat throughout A Clockwork Orange in order to give his audience a small experience with brainwashing. Burgess himself says that through the use of many Russian-like words, his readers will be forced to learn minimal Russian (Craik 51). After Burgess repeats words like "gulliver," "otchkies," and "devotchka," his readers begin to remember what these strange words mean, and therefore learn a new language. Without knowing it, the readers have taken part in a type of linguistic programming, and they are able to see first hand just what Alex undergoes in A Clockwork Orange (Craik 51). Burgess uses words very similar to their Russian counterparts. For example, the word "horrorshow" from the novel, which means good, comes from the Russian word khorosho. The word liudi, translates to "lewdies," meaning people. Because these words are so similar to the Russian words they come from, readers of A Clockwork Orange should be able to recognize small amounts of Terry 4
Russian (Craik 51). Almost subconsciously, Burgess has brainwashed his readers into learning a new language, and this relates them to the characters in the novel on a level that is not usually reached. Burgess's technique in this novel is genius, and
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