According to the FB post from his daughter, Leah, Alan Moore has finished the first draft of his long gestating novel. Jerusalem, which he’s been talking about for years and years. It’s billed as the history of a small patch of Moore’ native Northhampton, with characters coming and going from history, as he told the New Statesman:

That we have our lives over and over and over again an infinite number of times and, each time, we are having exactly the same thoughts, saying exactly the same things, doing exactly the same things as we were doing and saying the first time. If it’s even meaningful to talk of a first time.

I thought I’d thought of this idea myself because I was a genius . . . It turns out that the Pythagoreans had some sort of version of a great recurrence. They were basing it upon the idea that when this universe ends, because time is infinite, then there are bound to be other universes and, since those universes are finite, there will eventually be another universe exactly like this one, which I don’t really think holds up scientifically.

Whereas this idea of the dimensionality of our existence, it does hold up. I can’t see a way around it that doesn’t involve completely contradicting one of the main conceptual lynchpins of modern physics and, halfway throughJerusalem, I came across this beautiful quote from Albert Einstein that completely summed up everything that I was trying to say but very eloquently and at a lot shorter length than three quarters of a million words.

As described, the book sounds a lit like Bryan Talbot’s Alice in Sunderland, which also took a kaleidoscopic look at a British home town, and also Richard Maguire’s Here, a comic which similarly looks at a single location through time. It also recalls the themes of the great abandoned Moore opus, Big Numbers, which remains his only attempt at a story set among vaguely normal humans, although fractal theory was set to upset that apple cart.

Some more dispatches from the past:

In 2013 he told the Guardian:
“I am currently on the last official chapter, which I am doing somewhat in the style of Dos Passos. It should be finished by the end of the year or close to it. I don’t know if anyone else will like it at all,” he muses. I say that I can’t wait, and that it strikes me that the style he and the likes of Iain Sinclair and Michael Moorcock pioneered has become central to literary culture. He sighs, shaking the walls: “Oh God, have we? Oh no, we’re the mainstream!”

And he told The Beat:

I’ve done a chapter that’s like a mid-sixties New Wave, New Worlds Michael Moorcock-era science fiction story. There’s one that’s like a piece of noir fiction. It’s all these different styles, so I was getting to chapter 33, I know what I’m going to be doing in chapter 34 and chapter 35, but chapter 33, I thought, how shall I handle this? And I was thinking of all these different ways that I could do it, and none of them really worked. People were suggesting things – they were saying ‘well, could you do it in an epistolatory form?’, you know, as letters. I was saying, nah, that for one thing this third book is all in the present tense, and it wouldn’t really work with the plot that I’ve got for this chapter, and then finally, when I was talking to Steve, I said – when I first thought about this chapter, and was wondering what kind of approach to take to it, the first thing that I thought, and immediately dismissed, was I could do it in verse. And I said, I think the reason I said that I immediately dismissed is because it would far too fucking difficult.

Jerusalem does not yet have a publisher; despite its length given Moore’s stature as a literary figure I imagine it would still fetch an advance, should Moore desire it. Or maybe Top Shelf/Knockabout can have another go at it.

Now, how many years do you think it will take to give the first draft a run through?

No matter how long it takes. Jerusalem will be an event when it finally appears.


  1. A few years ago I scouted the internet looking for a copy of Jerusalem because I figured it must have come out when I wasn’t looking. Good to know we’ll see it “some day”…

  2. Part of me is incredibly excited about this. Another part of me wonders if I can afford to hire someone to lift the book for me.

    One million words! Yow!

    Out of curiosity, are there any other published novels than run that long?

  3. This can give us some idea about number of volumes needed: “There are approximately 1,084,170 words in the Harry Potter series.”

  4. The longest novel established as a classic is probably Proust’s “Remembrance of Things Past”. Alan Moore’s hardly in that league.

  5. I think it was Neil Gaiman who said that any book heavy enough to be able to stun an intruder was his definition of real art so this may very well be the masterpiece of all Western culture.

  6. “Out of curiosity, are there any other published novels than run that long?”

    Lord of the Rings, all three books = 473k words. And remember, that was over 1,000 pages total.

    So, Jerusalem is like the Trilogy of the Ring times two, plus a bit. If it is supposed to be one book, it will be completely unreadably because… Nobody can hold a book that is well over 2,000 pages. There has been book *series* longer, but… 1 book that long?

    The King James Bible, which is often reprinted with extremely tiny print, has 783,137 words.

    So, take a Bible (Full Christian Bible, old and new testament), and then add 50% to the length. Congratulations, you now have Moore’s Jerusalem.

  7. Alan Moore’s first novel, Voice of the Fire was exactly this, although imaginary in many respects, the history of Northhampton as Alan Moore could imagine it and knew of it.

    Voice of the Fire was a tremendous read.

  8. Back to Proust: in the original French, “A la recherche du temps perdu” is available as a single volume published by Gallimard, 2408 pages long.

  9. “Big Numbers, which remains his only attempt at a story set among vaguely normal humans,”

    What about A Small Killing?

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