In 1961, convinced he was dying, the English author Anthony Burgess (1917-1993) wrote five novels in an attempt to guarantee a future income for his wife.
one of these books, which Burgess later described as being knocked off for money in three weeks, and largely ignored at the time, was A Clockwork Orange.
Various filmmakers (including Warhol) had toyed with the story during the 1960's.
In 1970 Burgess heard that Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999) was going to film the novel, news he received with some trepidation: I foresaw a dangerous situation for myself and I was right to do so...
Burgess and Kubrick, as befitted two geniuses, had an interesting relationship.
Life of Napoleon.
Even though Burgess had no involvement in the film's production , the way in which its notoriety forced him into the spotlight obliged him to defend it.
Some elements of the novel are more disturbing than those of Kubrick's film. For example, in the book the gang members are only 14 years old. On the other hand Burgess' Alex (from the latin A Lex- without law) renounces the thrills of 'ultraviolence', whereas Kubrick worked from an American edition of the novel that lacked this final, redeeming chapter.
Amid the media hysteria in which crimes perpetrated by people who had never even seen the film were attributed to its influence, there was one event that stands out for special consideration. I've never seen it, but in what must have been a truly bizarre piece of television, the BBC asked Burgess to defend the film in front of an almost unanimously hostile audience. And who did the BBC choose to host this? Some expert on modern literature perhaps, or an eminent criminologist? Someone who was in a position to comment on the causal link between viewing or reading habits and maladaptive behaviour?
I'm not making this up. They chose (Sir) Jimmy Savile (OBE), the famous disc jockey.
Hamlet millions of people would have been incited to kill their uncles.
Burgess would comment years later: If they can give Jimmy Savile a knighthood, well, the honours system is so dishonoured that one wouldn’t want it.
For all the tribulations that the scandals surrounding the film caused Burgess he must have taken some comfort from the fact that when Penguin reissued the novel in the wake of the film's release it sold 50,000 copies in two weeks.
Stanley Kubrick; A Biography by John Baxter (1997).
You've Had Your Time, Being the Second Part of the Confessions of Anthony Burgess by Anthony Burgess (1990).