A Clockwork Orange

James Clayton

Viddy well then droogies! How would you like A Clockwork Orange for your Digital Tablet Apple? What’s it to be then eh, oh my brothers?

If you’re a fan of the Anthony Burgess book and/or the Stanley Kubrick film, it’s definitely going to have to be an affirmative yes. Released by publishers Random House to commemorate the novel’s 50th anniversary, the A Clockwork Orange iPad app is a real horrorshow thing to slooshy, smot and get your rasoodock around. It’s also a tolchok to the yarbles of any chellovecks reckoning that 21st century gadgetry will snuff out literature.

If anything, this app is the perfect example of how the reading experience can be enhanced and improved by effective, inspired use of technology. For example, if you’re struggling to grasp that Nadsat slang you needn’t worry because you can tap uncertain words and get an instant integrated translation. That’s just one nifty feature of the interactive ebook which facilitates easy reading and allows users to turn on Tom Hollander’s audio narration, switch to Anthony Burgess’ original annotated typescript or leap to relevant extra content.

Those bonus features are what really make the app something truly outstanding. It’s crammed with an overwhelming amount of eclectic goodies and even those ambivalent about A Clockwork Orange are sure to find something of interest in here. And if you’re a fan of the book and the film adaptation (also very well covered as an act of collateral cultural damage) you’ll be in heaven, oh my brothers. You can delve into the novel’s storied history, its themes and deep meanings, its controversies, legacies and much more through an exhaustive array of audio and visual accompaniments.

Alongside the intellectual stimulation of all the essays and academic appreciations of the groundbreaking text (including those conducted by the author himself) there’s a highly enjoyable time to be had exploring the archives. There’s a gallery gathering an assortment of international book covers. There’s sheet music for the author’s musical tribute to his own dystopian tale. There are contemporary reviews and bemused correspondences between agents and publishers, all apparently unaware at how significant the manuscript on their slate will become. There are readers’ letters questioning the discrepancies between different editions of the novel, complaining that their book club conversations have been confused by the omission of chapter 21 in the American print.

If you want the complete details of, say, the aforementioned omitted epilogue issue, you can find them in the paper trails, the audio clips, the articles and the video interviews with A Clockwork Orange experts or luminaries who love the novel. Whatever you want to delve into – the relationship between book and movie, the Nadsat vocab, discussions of the text’s treatment of violence, morality and freewill – it’s all there for you and instantly accessible thanks to the swish interface and simple to navigate nature of the app.

I personally got a great kick out of listening to Malcolm McDowell’s thoughts on playing Alex on screen as recorded for a 1970s American radio special. It’s also brilliant that there’s so much of Burgess himself in this package and as you hear him read extracts of his innovative masterwork and outline his ideas in essays and personal memos you get a wonderful sense of a man deeply immersed in a rich world of his own creation.

Once you start investigating the app and rediscovering A Clockwork Orange afresh you’ll find yourself with him, utterly bezoomy about the book and govoreeting away in Nadsat. What’s it to be then, eh? Droogies, I recommend you download it.

A Clockwork Orange iPad app available from the iTunes store for £9.99.

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