Get help from the best in academic writing.

The Need for Nadsat in A Clockwork Orange

A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess, develops a fictional account of a violent futuristic society, while integrating commentary on current political and social issues.

Not only does A Clockwork Orange present Burgess’ view on behavior science, but it also contains an invented language mixed in with English. Being well educated and having a background in languages such as Russian, German, and French, Burgess created a language known as Nadsat. Nadsat is influenced by Russian, German, English, Cockney Slang, and it also contains invented slang. The language has a poetic feel to it and Burgess’ writing contains context clues that help the reader determine what the unknown language means. The history of what led to Burgess’ ideas for the novel explains the history of Nadsat because it points out the need for a fictitious language.

A Clockwork Orange follows a teenager by the name of Alex, who teams up with his hoodlum friends in the night hours to commit a little bit of the old ultra violence. After one of Alex’s droogs challenges his leadership and loses, all of his friends turn on him, and our humble narrator is arrested and sent to prison for murder. In prison, Alex volunteers for a radical new treatment, which can cure him of his evilness, in exchange for a shortened sentence. Alex is released back into society, only to have the people he has wronged take their revenge on him. He finally finds redemption by living a normal life in society.

There are three events that led Burgess to ideas for the novel that needed a language to separate it from the content. The biggest influence happened in 1943, when Burgess’ pregnant wife, Lynne, was attacked and bruta…

… middle of paper …


De Vitis, A. A. Anthony Burgess. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1972.

Gladsky, Rita K. “Schema Theory and Literary Texts.” Language Quarterly. 30.1-2: 40-46.

Hyman, Stanley E. Glossary of Nadsat Language.

Keckler, Jesse. “Biography.” A Critical Look at A Clockwork Orange. 27 Nov. 1999.

Nadsat Dictionary. 3 Oct. 1999.

Petix, Esther. “Linguistics, Mechanics, and Metaphysics: Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange (1962).” Critical Essays on Anthony Burgess. Ed. Geoffrey Aggler. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1986. pp. 121-131.

“The Ultimate Beatnik.” Ed. Boytinck, Paul. Anthony Burgess, An Annotated Bibliography and Reference Guide. New York: Garland Publishing, 1985.

Reality and Illusion in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness

Reality and Illusion in Heart of Darkness

Fact is very important to Marlow. Facts are comprehensible. Evil isn’t a supernatural force or a force in opposition to god or life, but that which is incomprehensible to Marlow. The life of the Africans and the power of the jungle—or the larger reality of humanity—is evil in its incomprehensibility. The supreme morality is restraint, and comprehension of the jungle or acceptance of its incomprehensibility becomes symbolic for the absence of restraint in man. Purpose is good in its comprehensibility. When Marlow speaks derisively of the French man-of-war shelling an invisible ‘enemy’ to no purpose it is because he finds its actions ‘incomprehensible.’ Before Marlow becomes engaged in the jungle, what he finds supremely comprehensible, what he feels gives purpose, is nature, and he recognizes meaning as sound, voice, or movement.

‘The idleness of a passenger, my isolation amongst all these men with whom I had no point of contact, the oily and languid sea, the uniform sombreness of the coast, seemed to keep me away from the truth of things, within the toil of a mournful and senseless delusion. The voice of the surf heard now and then was a positive pleasure, like the speech of a brother. It was something natural, that had its reason, that had a meaning.’ (Conrad, 40).

This early passage shows Marlow’s affinity for sound (especially speech or voice), movement, and labor. Marlow’s reality when he embarks for the Congo is defined primarily by work, distinguished by movement, represented by voice, and saturated with meaning. As he goes deeper into the heart of darkness this reality alters and silence is the bearer of meaning that Marlow refuses to understand. Work becomes p…

… middle of paper …

…ilanthropy implied is a ‘sentimental pretence’ and not an ‘idea’, is merely an arrogance conceived by civilized, deluded man. But one that he would, nevertheless, like to embody.

Works Cited

Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. Editor Robert Kimbrough. New York: Norton, 1988.

Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. Editor Paul O’Prey. Middlesex: Penquin Books Ltd., 1983.

Cox, C. B. Conrad: Heart of Darkness, Nostromo, and Under Western Eyes. London: Macmillan Education Ltd., 1987.

Guetti, James. ‘Heart of Darkness and the Failure of the Imagination’, Sewanee Review LXXIII, No. 3 (Summer 1965), pp. 488-502. Ed. C. B. Cox.

Ruthven, K. K. ‘The Savage God: Conrad and Lawrence,’ Critical Quarterly, x, nos 1

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.