LITERATURE: A Clockwork Orange – Voice and Language

Well I must admit, the language is starting to get to me.

But there were the golosses of millicents telling them to shut it and you could even slooshy the zvook of like somebody being tolchocked real horrorshow and going owwwwwwwww, and it was like the goloss of a drunken starry ptitsa, not a man.  (p. 77)

Roughly translated:

But there were the voices of cops telling them to shut it and you could even hear the sound of like somebody being hit real bad and going owwwwwwwww, and it was like the voice of a drunken old woman, not a man.

Certain words in particular bug me:  goloss (voice), slooshy (hear), malenky (small).  There’s a slight possibility that it is because they’re close to Polish, a language I can sing and pray in but don’t speak.  Burgess has taken some liberty with Russian and Slavic words as well as English (viddy–see or watch; I’m guessing from video).  And in truth, as I get used to them and immediately understand their meaning, I realize that it is the words themselves, the syllables, the sound of them that bothers me. 

But this is the voice of the narrator, and the slang is a very important part of him.  It does add to the cockiness, the aloofness of the character.  The starrys (old people) do not speak this way and by the way, it’s a real pleasure to hear them speak now and then.  So the credibility is not a problem, yet it sounds forced.

Something this brings to mind in my own writing is the slightly more formal, stream of consciousness writing that I sometimes post here.  It may be lyrical prose, but it’s certainly not something that anyone would want to suffer through an entire book.

Interesting thought, without looking ahead into the book:  If the character of Alex does change–and he may be at a turning point as he’s just been arrested from breaking and entry and assault of an old woman (starry ptitsa)–will his language change as well?  Has any book been written that specifically makes this a part of the structure, likely from childhood to grown-up?  Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury comes to mind, as Benjy and Caddy start as children and grown to adulthood during the terms of the novel.

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