What Becomes of Russian Versions of “A Clockwork Orange”?

Question by Taro S: What Becomes of Russian Versions of “A Clockwork Orange”?
Droog, bolshy, malenky or anything like that.

Best answer:

Answer by Honestly, now
Great question. I’d imagine the book was banned in Russia until recently and is too old to have attracted much interest now. If it’s even been un-banned yet.

What do you think? Answer below!


  1. Gandalf says:

    The book, narrated by Alex, contains many words in a slang argot which Burgess invented for the book, called Nadsat. It is a mix of modified Slavic words, Polari, Cockney rhyming slang, derived Russian (like “baboochka”), and words invented by Burgess himself. For instance, these terms have the following meanings in Russian – ‘droog’ means ‘friend’ ; ‘korova’ means ‘cow'; ‘golova’ (gulliver) means ‘head'; ‘malchick’ or ‘malchickiwick’ means ‘boy'; ‘soomka’ means ‘sack’ or ‘bag'; ‘Bog’ means ‘God'; ‘khorosho’ means good, ‘prestoopnick’ means ‘criminal'; ‘rooker’ is ‘hand’, ‘cal’ is ‘crap’, ‘vec’ is ‘old man'; ‘litso’ is ‘face'; and so on. One of Alex’s doctors explains the language to a colleague as “Odd bits of old rhyming slang; a bit of gypsy talk, too. But most of the roots are Slav propaganda. Subliminal penetration.” Some words are not derived from anything, but merely easy to guess, e.g. ‘in-out, in-out’ or ‘the old in-out’ means sexual intercourse. ‘Cutter’, however, means money, because ‘cutter’ rhymes with ‘bread-and-butter'; this is genuine Cockney rhyming slang, which is intended to be impenetrable to outsiders (especially eavesdropping policemen).

    In the first edition of the book, no key was provided, and the reader was left to interpret the meaning from the context. In his appendix to the restored edition, Burgess explained that the slang would keep the book from seeming dated, and served to muffle “the raw response of pornography” from the acts of violence. Furthermore, in a novel where a form of brainwashing plays a role, the narrative itself brainwashes the reader into understanding Nadsat.

    Droogism refers to the commission of a crime for the sole sake of committing a crime, without material gain or benefit; robbery and kidnapping with the intent to demand ransom, for example, do not qualify as droogisms, as they are committed with the intention of some sort of material benefit for the perpetrator.

    The term “Ultraviolence”, referring to excessive and/or unjustified violence, was coined by Burgess in the book, which includes the phrase “do the ultra-violent.” The term’s association with aesthetic violence has led to its use in the media.

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