Finding the Strength to Carry On: Anthony Burgess and A Clockwork Orange

John Anthony Burgess Wilson was born on February 25th, 1917. He is most known for his literary creations, namely his very odd and violent book: A Clockwork Orange. A Clockwork Orange was published by Burgess in 1962, but was later adapted into film by Stanley Kubrick in 1971. Other than being an author, Burgess wrote poetry and composed several symphonies and musical pieces. When life took turns toward the negative, Burgess found refuge in the arts; he learned to build something beautiful when ugly was thrown his way. He eventually enrolled himself in the University of Manchester where he studied English Literature and graduated from in 1940.

Burgess led quite the life, enduring many hardships life threw his way. When Burgess was just a small boy, both his mother and sister had died from the influenza pandemic that was going around in the early 1900’s.  The pandemic had torn thousands of families apart with death; Burgess’ family was no exception. He had to grow up with only himself and his father. To have to learn the ropes of life on one’s own is truly inspiring. He had to teach himself essentially everything in life.

Most people have some form of guidance as they learn to swim the rough, unpredictable waters of Life; others are just thrown in: they either sink or swim. Burgess was amongst those who were unfortunately tossed into Life’s waters without much of an aid. He ended up transforming into a boat amongst the swimmers. He built a life for himself by pushing though the tough and painful parts of Life with his musical and literary creations.

Despite all the hardships that he has had to face, Burgess latched onto the things that made him happiest: literature and music. He amazingly taught himself how to play piano; by the time he was 18 he has written his first original symphony all on his own. He found refuge in the arts, and let his passion fuel his masterpieces, finding joy in a world of misery.

Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange was inspired by the controlling society that shaped people into the moulds that they will forever have to live in order to be accepted by the majority. A Clockwork Orange challenges society, painting it in an overbearing evil and controlling light rather it being looked at in its usual “normal” light. Burgess extracts the normal out of it, and exposes the mould it forces people into. Alex, the teenaged protagonist in A Clockwork Orange, is forcefully put through a violent re-conditioning, stripping away the very essence of who he is, making him fit into society rather than live in his true nature. This theme is present in the novel’s title: rather than having Alex be the bright natural fruit that he is, he is manipulated by society, forcing him to operate in the clockwork fashion that everyone else does. Alex becomes a clockwork orange.  Burgess was inspired by the science fiction dystopia genre, namely by Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Burgess adored literature of the dystopic genre, and has greatly contributed to the entire genre with A Clockwork Orange.

Readers are plentiful: thinkers are rare.” – Anthony Burgess

John Anthony Burgess Wilson lived through all the rough patches in hopes for smoother ones. He eventually married and had children of his own. Burgess continued to work and write up until his last years of life. This shows a high degree of passion: writing clearly brought happiness into his life, so much so that he was writing before death claimed him. Burgess passed away from lung cancer in November of 1993. He lives through his works and the music he has created. He is a true inspiration to anyone struggling and/or a discouraged writer or musician. One must never give up on something one loves; the passion one feels will show in one’s work.

Author Bio: Leann Jeethan

Leann Jeethan is a recent English Literature graduate from Southern Ontario. She is a lover of all literature, and adores authors like Anthony Burguess, Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker. She spends most of her free time reading, writing and catching up on The Walking Dead.