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Most Americans were unaware of the missing last chapter; the movie even follows the American novelization. Why in America was the 21st chapter removed when it first came to the US? In Europe the chapter is in, and now the US has the 21st chapter, but why was it removed in the first place?

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  • Another interesting difference is the Nadsat glossary; the "London" edition had 21 chapters and no glossary and the "New York" edition had 20 chapters and a glossary.
    – StuperUser
    Feb 24, 2014 at 13:46
  • 2
    With an accepted answer that directly addresses the question, what more "attention" are you hoping for?
    – Valorum
    Apr 5, 2014 at 13:57
  • 1
    @giacomocasanova Stop bumping this question just to earn a badge.
    – user1027
    May 9, 2014 at 15:45
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    @giacomocasanova - I think it's time you accept the answer.
    – Wad Cheber
    Sep 27, 2015 at 1:01

1 Answer 1

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+50

Short answer: It was a decision by the american publisher. The European edition always had the final chapter.

From Wikipedia:

The book has three parts, each with seven chapters. Burgess has stated that the total of 21 chapters was an intentional nod to the age of 21 being recognised as a milestone in human maturation. The 21st chapter was omitted from the editions published in the United States prior to 1986. In the introduction to the updated American text (these newer editions include the missing 21st chapter), Burgess explains that when he first brought the book to an American publisher, he was told that U.S. audiences would never go for the final chapter, in which Alex sees the error of his ways, decides he has lost all energy for and thrill from violence and resolves to turn his life around (a slow-ripening but classic moment of metanoia—the moment at which one's protagonist realises that everything he thought he knew was wrong).

At the American publisher's insistence, Burgess allowed their editors to cut the redeeming final chapter from the U.S. version, so that the tale would end on a darker note, with Alex succumbing to his violent, reckless nature—an ending which the publisher insisted would be 'more realistic' and appealing to a U.S. audience. The film adaptation, directed by Stanley Kubrick, is based on the American edition of the book (which Burgess considered to be "badly flawed"). Kubrick called Chapter 21 "an extra chapter" and claimed that he had not read the original version until he had virtually finished the screenplay, and that he had never given serious consideration to using it. In Kubrick's opinion, the final chapter was unconvincing and inconsistent with the book.

Source: Wikipedia

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    An interesting case of a publisher butchering a book and also being correct about doing so.
    – DampeS8N
    Feb 24, 2014 at 2:46
  • Ah, now I understand why people says the film is so dark.
    – smci
    Feb 24, 2014 at 3:04
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    @DampeS8N Being correct? I'd say that's up for debate. For example, with the 21st chapter and no glossary the book can be seen as about choice, redemption and teenage rebellion (using a language that can't be understood by outsiders). With 20 chapters and a glossary it's pretty much about violence being bad.
    – StuperUser
    Feb 24, 2014 at 13:36
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    @StuperUser I mean correct in about how the U.S. would prefer the book.
    – DampeS8N
    Feb 24, 2014 at 20:08
  • @DampeS8N I'd say that's up for debate too.
    – Zibbobz
    May 9, 2014 at 17:16

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