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A non-fiction follow-up to A Clockwork Orange has been uncovered

Photo: Michael Ochs Archives (Getty Images)

According to the BBC, an unpublished follow-up to Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange called A Clockwork Condition has been found in his archives (which are being catalogued by the International Anthony Burgess Foundation in England). The 200-age manuscript is apparently “part philosophical reflection and part autobiography,” detailing some of the backstory of Burgess’ original book, the allegations that Stanley Kubrick’s movie adaptation incited violent copycat crimes, and his further thoughts on how society is impacted by technology and media.

Burgess himself apparently referred to A Clockwork Condition as a “major philosophical statement on the contemporary human condition,” and the BBC story includes some quotes about the genesis of A Clockwork Orange’s title:

In 1945, back from the army, I heard an 80-year-old Cockney in a London pub say that somebody was “as queer as a clockwork orange.” The “queer” did not mean homosexual: it meant mad... For nearly 20 years I wanted to use it as the title of something... It was a traditional trope, and it asked to entitle a work which combined a concern with tradition and a bizarre technique.


Sure! The BBC story also notes that a lot of the topics covered in Condition popped up in Burgess’ semi-autobiographical novella The Clockwork Testament, Or Enderby’s End, which was published in the ‘70s. It doesn’t sound like there’s any plan to release a version of A Clockwork Condition to the public, but that might be for the best. According to Andrew Biswell, the director of the Burgess Foundation, the author abandoned the manuscript when he realized “he was a novelist and not a philosopher”—meaning it’s probably not all that great.

On another note, this dig through Burgess’ archives is apparently taking a while, with his original rejected screenplay for Kubrick’s movie being discovered back in 2011.

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