First US edition (Stonehill, 1976)
There was also a UK edition from Dempsey & Squires (1976) with an identical cover
Poster for Miniseries
UK DVD release
UK DVD release
Moses is a verse novel that Burgess found necessary to write in preparation for his 1975 teleplay Moses The Lawgiver (dir. Gianfranco De Bosio). He says in the Foreword to this handsomely produced one-off hardcover edition:
The major aesthetic problem was a linguistic one, as it always is with historical or mythical subjects, and I found the only way out of the problem was to precede the assembly of a shooting script with a more or less literary production…To have written Moses first as a prose novel would have entailed the setting up of a somewhat cumbersome mechanism, in which the devices of “naturalism” would have led me to an unwholesome prosaism both in dialogue and récit.
Burgess would again use the simultaneous biblical novel/teleplay method for Man of Nazareth (1979) and The Kingdom of the Wicked (1985). Those two novels, however, would be in prose form, leading one to the conclusion that only the New Testament demands unwholesome prosaism.
Moses is usually considered apart from the rest of Burgess’s fiction, but if Byrne can be thrown in with the novels, I don’t see why Moses cannot. And the book is worth finding if only for Burgess’s barely third-person two-page biographical note.
And here’s a strange bit of trivia. The estimable Thomas Keneally created a novelisation of the series published by Harper & Row in 1975, before Burgess’s version was published. Presumably the makers of the series doubted the commercial potential of a tie-in verse epic. Silly…
And here is Ennio Morricone’s original score: