Clockwork Orange app marks 50th anniversary

Random House is releasing a choodessny veshch [“wonderful thing”] to mark the 50th anniversary of the first publication of Anthony Burgess’ cult classic A Clockwork Orange—famous for the slang used by its characters as well as its violent content.

The A Clockwork Orange app for iPad, priced £9.99 and released through the Apple app store shortly, comprises the novel and additional texts, video and audio content. It is presented using menus which are arranged into key topics, from “good and evil” to “reviews” and “dystopias”.

The app reproduces the full 1961 original typescript—previously unpublished—complete with annotations, illustrations and musical scores. It also features a freshly edited edition introduced by Andrew Biswell, Burgess’ biographer, with a new foreword by Martin Amis and a prologue and epilogue by Burgess.

The app also includes an accompanying glossary of the characters’ slang language, Nadsat, and a section on Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 film adaptation. There is also exclusive material taken from the International Anthony Burgess Foundation and the Random House archives charting the book’s evolution, including a note from its original agent Peter Janson-Smith who reveals his first impressions upon coming across Burgess’ manuscript.
Unusually, although Penguin is publisher of the paperback and e-book editions of A Clockwork Orange, with William Heinemann holding hardback rights,Random House came to an arrangement with Penguin and the book’s agent to produce the app.

Digital editor Dan Franklin said: “It is just a funny instance of a classic, a book published in the 1960s, with the rights going off in different directions.”

Franklin said the app tried to reflect the original attitude of the book. He said: “We didn’t want to make it very dry; A Clockwork Orange has much more attitude and is a bit antisocial, slightly ‘take-it-or-leave-it’, and we wanted to capture that . . . I think there is traditionally a kind of angsty young men market for A Clockwork Orange, and it plays squarely into that, but it’s also a studied text—it’s a kind of portable study guide and museum experience.”

The inclusion of female commentators such as activist Laurie Penny in the app’s content was a conscious effort to tackle the theme of violence towards women in the book, Franklin said.