Napoleon Symphony: A Novel in Four Movements (ISBN 0-224-01009-3) is Anthony Burgess's fictional recreation of the life and world of Napoleon Bonaparte, first published in 1974. He said he found the novel "elephantine fun" to write.
Its four movements follow the structure of Beethoven's Eroica symphony.
Burgess's Bonaparte is a cuckold suffering from heartburn and halitosis who is shown as a wily seducer of Tsar Alexander. His conquest of Egypt is a central theme of the novel, which gives a comic but detailed and revealing portrait of an Arab and Muslim society under occupation by a Christian western power.
"Eroica" was originally dedicated to Bonaparte; then, when Napoleon crowned himself Emperor, Beethoven rededicated Sinfonia eroica, composta per festeggiare il sovvenire d'un grand'uomo (Heroic symphony, composed to celebrate the memory of a great man) and called it Eroica.
The novel is dedicated to Stanley Kubrick, who directed the adaption of Burgess's novel A Clockwork Orange, who himself had intended to make a biographical film of Bonaparte, but failed to complete it.
Famous quotes containing the words napoleon and/or symphony:
“Napoleon wanted to turn Paris into Rome under the Caesars, only with louder music and more marble. And it was done. His architects gave him the Arc de Triomphe and the Madeleine. His nephew Napoleon III wanted to turn Paris into Rome with Versailles piled on top, and it was done. His architects gave him the Paris Opera, an addition to the Louvre, and miles of new boulevards.”
—Tom Wolfe (b. 1931)
“The truth is, as every one knows, that the great artists of the world are never Puritans, and seldom even ordinarily respectable. No virtuous manthat is, virtuous in the Y.M.C.A. sensehas ever painted a picture worth looking at, or written a symphony worth hearing, or a book worth reading, and it is highly improbable that the thing has ever been done by a virtuous woman.”
—H.L. (Henry Lewis)