The Clockwork Condition

Scope and Content

In the early 1970s, Burgess met a literary agent, called Thomas Collins, with whom he discussed a number of literary projects. Among the proposed projects was that of a photo-book (tentatively titled "The Clockwork Condition"), that would present Burgess' view of modern man and of the human condition. The book was to be structured into three parts, focussing on three types of man, characterised by varying degrees of free will: Infernal Man, Neutral Man, and Purgatorial Man. Each section of the book was to be illustrated with a collage of black and white photographs and extracts from Burgess's own works and those of other authors, with an over-arching commentary by Burgess.

Research notes were compiled for this project, however the original proposal was revised on a number of occasions. Alternative suggestions included the relatively minor removal of text written by other authors, such that the book would be entirely written by Burgess, to a more significant revision in the proposed content of the book. It was suggested that, for example, while the title, The Clockwork Condition, would be retained, the book would instead consist of Burgess's diary entries from the year in which Kubrick's film of A Clockwork Orange was released.

Although the project was never completed, the title, The Clockwork Condition, was ultimately attributed by Burgess to an article about free will and the human condition that he wrote for Rolling Stone magazine in 1973. The article, however, was not published until June 2012 in The New Yorker. (The article was also published (in 2012) by W. W. Norton and Company in the Restored Text and Fiftieth Anniversary Edition of A Clockwork Orange.)

This series consists of research notes and source material for the project as initially proposed, i.e. a photo-book about modern man and the human condition.


The New Yorker, 4 June 2012