I think my trajectory for this book is similar to a lot of people’s (especially boys–>men) which is that I saw the movie first, at a way too young age, and could not really process or make sense of any ideas, other than salaciousness of it (not good!) and the stunning visuals and audio in the film. Then in college I read the book and realized there was a lot more to it in general, at least a final moment that challenges the rest of the book. I think the movie still comes to an interesting conclusion, even if, as Burgess laments in the introduction here, that the American edition of the book cuts out the last chapter breaking the structure and thematic conclusion of the book.
So rereading now it’s remarkable how either not challenging the language ends up being now that I am older or how less so it is given what I know about that language and what it’s parodying (cockney slang), so it’s a faster read. In addition, the biggest change for me is that I have a more rounder understanding of Anthony Burgess as a writer, both as a writer of novels, having read a number more of his books, but of a writer with a career, not just as the writer of A Clockwork Orange, a book and movie I liked when I was younger. It changes some things. In addition, knowing more about British literature and the history of the 1960s all brings more to this than when I was 19 or so. I think it still holds up, especially separate from the movie, and has a lot more to say about young male masculinity than I would have guessed, and also a little less to say about society and its controls.