Books: Grand Illusions

NAPOLEON SYMPHONY by ANTHONY BURGESS 365 pages. Knopf. $7.95.

Anyone who read A Clockwork Orange before having his eyeballs poached by Stanley Kubrick's movie version knows Anthony Burgess as a writer with a hearty appetite for the cosmic bite into such subjects as original sin, good v. evil and spiritual sloth—not to mention the need for individual moral choice. He is also intimidatingly prolific and versatile.

Since 1956 he has written 20 novels, four books of criticism, a Shakespeare biography, a study of linguistics, dozens of critical articles and scores of bread-and-butter...