Napoleon Symphony

Scope and Content

Napoleon Symphony is Burgess's fictional recreation of the life and world of Napoleon Bonaparte, first published in 1974. The novel is dedicated to Stanley Kubrick, who had directed the film adaption of Burgess's earlier novel, A Clockwork Orange. Kubrick himself had intended to make a biographical film about Napoleon starring Jack Nicholson, but was dissatisfied with his own screenplay. He corresponded with Burgess about the project, and the two met in December 1971. Burgess suggested to Kubrick that the structure of the film could be based on the Beethoven's Third Symphony (known as the Eroica), which had originally been dedicated to Napoleon. Kubrick asked Burgess to write a novel based on this concept to serve as the basis for a screenplay. Using his own knowledge of symphonic structure, Burgess based his writing closely on the sequence of Beethoven's work. In June 1972 he sent parts one and two to Kubrick, who responded with regret that the treatment was unsuitable for a film. Undeterred, Burgess continued to develop his idea, eventually producing an experimental novel consisting of four "movements" which follow, as he intended, the structure of Beethoven's Symphony No. 3. Burgess includes an analysis of the novel in his book This Man and Music, published in 1982.

See also Napoleon Rising.

The series consists of drafts of the novel, including a fragment of a draft in english and italian translation.