A Clockwork Orange 'sequel' found in Burgess archive

A Clockwork Orange 'sequel' found in Burgess archive

The sequel to A Clockwork Orange has been unearthed in the archives of its author, Anthony Burgess. 

Andrew Biswell, professor of modern literature at Manchester Metropolitan University and author of a biography of Burgess,  discovered The Clockwork Condition, an unfinished 200-page manuscript, written by Burgess as a response to the moral panic surrounding Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 cinema adaptation of A Clockwork Orange.

Burgess’s non-fiction manuscript was found among papers abandoned in his house in Bracciano, near Rome, where he moved in the early 1970s. The archive, which is now being catalogued, was transferred to the Burgess Foundation in Manchester when the house was sold after Burgess’s death in 1993. 

Professor Biswell, who is also director of the International Anthony Burgess Foundation in Manchester, said: “This remarkable unpublished sequel to A Clockwork Orange sheds new light on Burgess, Kubrick and the controversy surrounding the notorious novel. This is a very exciting discovery. Burgess’s only public reference to The Clockwork Condition was in a 1975 interview where he suggested that it had not developed beyond the idea stage. Part philosophical reflection and part autobiography, The Clockwork Condition provides a context for Burgess’s most famous work, and amplifies his views on crime, punishment and the possible corrupting effects of visual culture. It also casts fresh light on Burgess’s complicated relationship with his own Clockwork Orange novel, a work that he went on revisiting until the end of his life. As the film is re-released in UK cinemas and the Design Museum launches a major Stanley Kubrick exhibition in April, now is the right moment to re-examine Burgess’s complex and celebrated book.”

Burgess described The Clockwork Condition as a “major philosophical statement on the contemporary human condition". The book survives as a series of typewritten drafts, notes and outlines, in which Burgess develops ideas from his original novel, addresses the controversy surrounding Kubrick’s film, and puts forward new arguments about the possible dangers of technology and visual culture, especially film and television. But as the book project grew, Burgess’s increased popularity following the film led him to take on a large number of other writing commitments.

Professor Biswell said: “Eventually Burgess came to realise that the proposed non-fiction book was beyond his capabilities, as he was a novelist and not a philosopher. It was then suggested that he should publish a diary under the title ‘The Year of the Clockwork Orange’, but this project was also abandoned. Instead he wrote a short autobiographical novel, which also features ‘clockwork’ in the title – The Clockwork Testament. Published as an illustrated novel in 1974, the book engages with the same thematic material he had intended to use in The Clockwork Condition, such as good and evil, original sin, and the problems of modernity and violence. In theory it would be possible to create a publishable version of The Clockwork Condition. There is enough material present in the drafts and outlines to give a reasonably clear impression of what this lost Burgess book might have been.”

A Clockwork Orange was published in 1962 by William Heinemann UK, which retains the hardback rights, with Penguin the publisher of the paperback and e-book editions.