Lot 1
  • 1

Burgess, Anthony

15,000 - 25,000 USD
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  • ink and paper
A Clockwork Orange. London: Heinemann, 1962

8vo. Faint spotting, light browning to edges. Publisher's black cloth, lower cover blocked in blind, gilt spine.  Original color pictorial dust-jacket by Barry Tengrove; two short closed tears to the spine head. In a cloth folding case.

Catalogue Note

A rare presentation copy of the first edition: "To Dr. McMichael – A substitute appendix from John B. Wilson (‘Anthony Burgess’) June 1962."  As the legend goes, Burgess took up writing to provide security for his widow-to-be when he was diagnosed with a terminal illness by a London-based doctor in 1959. Since neither Burgess nor his biographer mention the doctor by name, it is possible that it was Dr. McMichael who provided the original impulse for both A Clockwork Orange and an embarrassment of novels, criticism, symphonies and scripts subsequently issued from Burgess’s pen. 

Any contemporary presentation copies of this novel are certainly very uncommon, and the very few that are known are almost invariably inscribed to persons to whom Burgess felt close. It is also most unusual for Burgess to sign using his real name.

A Clockwork Orange is a landmark of post-war British literature. Burgess’s most famous book is a polemic against social engineering and the creation of the perfectly programmed man through super-Pavlovian therapy. It was adapted for the screen by Stanley Kubrick in 1971, and his notorious film engendered a furious debate upon release—banned in the U.K. for decades—it has lost none of its power forty years later.