Literature Study GuidesA Clockwork OrangeEpilogue A Malenky Govoreet About The Molodoy Summary

A Clockwork Orange | Study Guide

Anthony Burgess

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Course Hero Literature Instructor Russell Jaffe provides an in-depth summary and analysis of the epilogue of Anthony Burgess's novella A Clockwork Orange.

A Clockwork Orange | Epilogue: "A Malenky Govoreet about the Molodoy" | Summary



Translated out of nadsat, the title of this epilogue means "A Little Conversation about the Youth." Burgess wrote it to be published just before the debut of his stage version of the novel. A young newspaper reporter, identified only as AB, interviews Alex, now in his early forties, about the state of youth in 1987. Alex has become a family man, taxpayer, and out-of-shape "[p]illar of society," according to AB. But Alex says that in fact he has never changed. He is "fixed like" in his book. They discuss youth, slipping in and out of nadsat, and Alex makes these points:

  • They do not think much—not one "missal in their gullivers"—and they pay no attention to the great music of the past.
  • Even when the youth think they are engaged with issues, they are not. They claim to be "against war and all for universal peace," but original sin makes peace impossible.
  • They take too many drugs, in an attempt to evade "the culture of their elders," who have "ruined the world," in AB's words.
  • When they engage in violence, they do so "[v]ery cowardly and very like unkind," using guns and bombs that let them kill and maim from a "long long long like way off. Violence should be "[r]ooker to rooker" so that the perpetrator bleeds along with his victim.
  • They must grow up and build instead of destroying. Alex sings words he wrote to Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" to make his point. They include these ideas: "When you build instead of busting," you will write your own joyous ode; and "Do not be a clockwork orange" but instead, "[l]ook on" both good and evil and then choose. Such choice is "free but seldom easy," and it is the definition of "human freedom."


Biographer Andrew Biswell notes that the epilogue and the stage adaptation are part of Burgess's tug-of-war with filmmaker Stanley Kubrick over Alex and his story. For readers today, a compelling question may be whether this middle-aged Alex is believable. In the novel, Alex does criticize his peers as thoughtless, ordinary, and a waste of time, but his arrogance seems to be tied to his youth. In the interview, Alex's position on the young has not changed, however. He seems to have adopted some of F. Alexander's thinking about the purpose of human existence and some of the prison chaplain's understanding of sin and redemption, perhaps lending more weight to these characters' statements in the novel itself. The epilogue also "fixes" Alex in his story, where Burgess wants him. He asks, after singing his version of "Ode to Joy," whether he can now "return to the pages of my book." AB replies, "You never left them."

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