- List of longest novels
Like determining the
list of tallest buildings, figuring the list of longest novels would yield different results depending on what criteria are used.
While word and character figures are common standard, "word" and "character" become interchangeable depending on the language used. In alphabetic writing, several letters are combined to make a syllable, which are combined to make a word. In the Korean language, each letter expresses one syllable, significantly reducing the number of letters needed to express one word, while, in the
Chinese language, each word is expressed by one character. Japanese, borrowing its word roots in part from Chinese, uses a combination of ideographs combined with syllabic symbols for inflection.
The number of pages in a novel proportional the number to the words and/or characters is another standard but what counts as a novel is another variable. Novel cycles are essentially multivolume of books that share a fictional universe yet could be read independently. In some cases, authors and publishers might disagree on how to publish literary works and break up a novel into a series and vice versa.
Longest novels in Latin or Cyrillic alphabets
The longest novels in Latin or
Georges de Scudéry, " Artamène"=
Published in ten volumes from
1649–53. The two-author work contains 2.1 million words.Fact|date=February 2007 Available online (in French only) at [http://www.artamene.org/ Artamene.org] .
Marcel Proust, "À la recherche du temps perdu"=
Longest conventionally-read novel. 9,609,000 characters [ [http://www.bookspot.com/ask/longestbook.htm What's the world's longest novel? - You Asked for It at BookSpot.com] ] , nearly 1.5 million words. Holds the "
Guinness Book of Records" title as Longest Novel. Published in 13 volumes from 1913 to 1927. English translation is titled "Remembrance of Things Past" or "In Search of Lost Time". L. Ron Hubbard, "Mission Earth"
1.2 million words. [ [http://www.holysmoke.org/rvy/rvy2.htm Hubbard's "Mission Earth" - the rest of the story by Robert Vaughn Young ] ] Published 1986 to 1988 as ten volumes.
Marija Jurić Zagorka, " Gordana"
Originally published in serial format, but later in between 8 and 12 volumes (depending on the printing), the 1935 Croatian tome "Gordana" and spans over 5200 pages. The word count is unknown. Arguably the longest Croatian novel, "Gordana" is also one of the world's longest books as well.
Madison Cooper, " Sironia, Texas"
1952. 1731 pages, originally published in two volumes. [ [http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/view/CC/fco59.html Handbook of Texas Online - COOPER, MADISON ALEXANDER, JR] ] Estimated at 1,100,000 words. [ [http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/LL/kzl1_print.html Handbook of Texas Online - LITERATURE] ] Samuel Richardson, " Clarissa"
1748. First edition contains about 969,000 words. Third edition contains some 5,500,000 characters, over one million words. [ [http://www.compleatseanbean.com/clari.html Clarissa] ] Published in nine volumes. Anthony Powell, " A Dance to the Music of Time"
Published from 1951 to 1975, as a partial tribute to Proust. Published in 12 volumes, it is sometimes regarded as a
novel sequence. At over 1 million words, it is a contender for the longest English-language novel ever written. Xavier Herbert, " Poor Fellow My Country"
Published 1975. At 1463 pages and 850,000 words, it is the longest Australian novel. [ [http://www.middlemiss.org/lit/authors/herbertx/herbertx.html Australian Authors - Xavier Herbert (1901-84)] ]
Marguerite Young, " Miss MacIntosh, My Darling"
Published 1965. Contains "700,000 words on 1,198 closely printed pages". [ [http://home.earthlink.net/~eichfr/youngreview.htm Critical Reviews] ]
Alexandre Dumas, père, "Le Vicomte de Bragelonne, ou Dix ans plus tard"=
1847. When published in English it was usually split into three parts "The Vicomte de Bragelonne", "Louise de la Valliere" and "The Man in the Iron Mask". Estimated at some 626,000 French words. [ [http://www.amazon.com/dp/0192834630/ Amazon.com: The Vicomte de Bragelonne (Oxford World's Classics): Alexandre Dumas père, David Coward: Books] ] [ [http://www.amazon.com/dp/0192834657/ Amazon.com: Louise de la Vallière (Oxford World's Classics): Alexandre Dumas père, David Coward: Books] ] [ [http://www.amazon.com/dp/0192838423/ Amazon.com: The Man in the Iron Mask (Oxford World's Classics): Alexandre Dumas père, David Coward: Books] ] Robert Musil, " The Man Without Qualities"
Published in three parts, two in
1930, the third after Musil's death in 1941. Unfinished at over 1700 pages. Ayn Rand, " Atlas Shrugged"
1957. Approximately 565,000 words. 1168 pages. [ [http://www.amazon.com/dp/0452011876 Amazon.com: Atlas Shrugged: Ayn Rand: Books] ] Vikram Seth, " A Suitable Boy"
1993. 1488 pages softcover. 591,552 words. [ [http://www.amazon.com/dp/0060925000 Amazon.com: A Suitable Boy: Novel, A: Vikram Seth: Books] ] The longest conventional novel in English since "Clarissa", and officiallyFact|date=May 2007 the longest novel in the English language published in a single volume. Leo Tolstoy, " War and Peace"
Published from 1865 to 1869. Original text has some 460,000 Russian and French words. English translation contains over 560,000 words and over 3.1 million characters; typically over 1400 pages as a paperback. [The Oxford Louise and Ayimer Maude translation has 561,093 words, according to [http://www.amazon.com/dp/sitb-next/0192833987 Amazon] , while the Modern Library Constance Garnett translation contains 590,234 words [http://www.amazon.com/dp/sitb-next/0375760644 according to Amazon] . Introductions and other material are not accounted for.]
Carl Sandburg, " Remembrance Rock"
1948. 532,030 words. [ [http://www.amazon.com/dp/0156763907 Amazon.com: Remembrance Rock: Carl Sandburg: Books] ] Victor Hugo, " Les Misérables"
1862. Nearly 513,000 French words. Unabridged French edition (ISBN 2070102645) 1779 pages (including essays).
elf-published, unpublished, and controversial entries
The advent of very inexpensive self publishing has complicated the definition of a novel. An author can easily and inexpensively create a literary work that meets all of the conventional criteria that a text must meet to be called a novel. There are probably thousands of vanity publishers in the world, so it is likely impossible to develop a verifiably exhaustive list of longest works. Most self-published novels remain unacknowledged by the reading public. However, others have generated considerable attention from the mass media.
Mark Leach, " Marienbad My Love"
Self published as a single volume in 2008. Marketed as the world's longest published novel in English, it contains 17 million words. The author also claims "Marienbad My Love" (which is the condensed title) contains the world's longest word, 4.4 million letters; sentence, 3 million words; and book title, 6,700 words. These claims have attracted significant attention from the mass media, including stories by io9.com and filmfest.com. [ [http://marienbadmylove.com "Marienbad My Love"] free
ebook(files "Title" through "Epilogue").] [ [ http://www.filmstew.com/showArticle.aspx?ContentID=17399] Making a Mess of Marienbad | Filmstew.com | July 8, 2008] [ [http://io9.com/5023076/thrill+crazed-space-bugs-swarm-through-worlds-longest-novel] Thrill-Crazed Space Bugs Swarm Through World's Longest Novel | io9.com | July 8, 2008] [ [http://www.filminfocus.com/week-in-film/week-in-film-31.php] That's One Long Book, My Love | filminfocus.com | July 15, 2008] Nigel Tomm, " The Blah Story"
Self published. The first volume of "The Blah Story" was published in
2007by Algirdas Javtokas under the pen name of Nigel Tomm, according to the copyright page of the book. Up to now, 23 volumes of the novel (consists of nothing but repetitions of the word "blah" interspersed with grammatical particles) are published. They contain 11,338,105 words, 61,745,771 characters (with spaces), and 17,868 pages. [ [http://www.amazon.com/s?search-alias=stripbooks&unfiltered=1&field-keywords=&field-author=nigel+tomm&field-title=the+blah+story&field-isbn=&field-publisher=&node=&url=&field-binding=&field-subject=&field-language=&field-dateop=&field-datemod=&field-dateyear=&sort=relevancerank&Adv-Srch-Books-Submit.x=0&Adv-Srch-Books-Submit.y=0 Amazon.com: the blah story - nigel tomm: Books] ] Javtokas has a history of staging promotional stunts on the Internet. In 2006, he was criticized on Amazon.com when he used a non de plume to promote his book "Beta Algebra" and referred to himself as the "new Einstein." [ [http://www.amazon.com/tag/science/forum?_encoding=UTF8&cdForum=FxZ58KVEERYS5E&cdThread=TxFN8N6DLEJ966&displayType=tagsDetail Forbidden mathematical book (!?) ] ] He has also entered Nigel Tomm into the movie database of imdb.com as a director, writer and producer by self-publishing six feature-length DVDs that bear the names of famous books but consist of nothing but blank screens. [ [http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2961657/] ] Henry Darger, " The Story of the Vivian Girls"
(Full title: "The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinnian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion") Unpublished novel. Illustrated fantasy novel manuscript typed single-spaced with 15,145 pages in 10 volumes. Discovered after Darger's death, the manuscript has never been published. The total number of words has been estimated; some believe this might be the longest novel ever written. The novel has generated considerable and sustained interest from the mass media. [ [http://www.metroactive.com/papers/sonoma/01.12.05/realms-0502.html Metroactive Movies | 'In the Realms of the Unreal'] ] 15,145 pages at 600 words per page (typical for old typewriters set to single spaced lines) would result in over 9 million words. [ [http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/07/29/DDBA120QVC.DTL] Posthumous fame grows for artist Henry Darger | Associated Press | July 29, 2008] [ [http://www.villagevoice.com/2002-04-16/art/the-outsiders/] The Outsiders | Village Voice | April 16, 2002]
Simon Roberts, "Knickers"
Self published in
2003, [http://www.britishsuperbikes.freeserve.co.uk/knickers/ "Knickers"] contains a total of 14,156,074 characters (including spaces) resulting in roughly 2 million words. [ [http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/kidszone/activities/activity%205/language_lit.pdf] Dead link|date=May 2008] Its claim to the title is somewhat dubious, however—although the work totals 2078 pages and 17 chapters, Chapter 14 ("Leap of Faith") consists of almost nothing but the word "thanks" repeated between pages 52 and 2069. The ploy appears to be an attempt merely to make it into the " Guinness Book of Records". Although listed in 2003 on the "Guinness Sheet of Literary Records", the record has since been withdrawn. A first edition printing was abandoned after three copies; plans for a second edition have been announced. Courtney Thomas, " Walls of Phantoms"
Self published in 2007. Coming in at 629,858 words that fill 1320 pages, "Walls of Phantoms" - which retells the "
Odyssey" in a modern setting - is the third longest single volume novel ever written. It's also perhaps the longest by an African-American. [ [http://www.amazon.com/dp/0978793307/ Amazon.com: Walls of Phantoms: Courtney M Thomas: Books] ]
It is difficult to ascertain whether novel cycles, like the aforementioned "À la recherche du temps perdu" and
Neal Stephenson's " Baroque Cycle", should be considered a multi-volumed single novel by itself, or a series of novels, as in novel sequences. Some, like Proust's "À la recherche du temps perdu" or Tolkien's " The Lord of the Rings", were clearly conceived as a single, unified work. Many romans fleuve produced in the last century are much harder to classify, including novel cycles like Romain Rolland's " Jean Christophe" (1904-12) and Dutch writer JJ Voskuils's "Het Bureau" ("The Bureau", 1996-). The longest roman fleuve ever written is Jules Romains's " Les Hommes de bonne volonté" ("Men of Good Will"), produced in 27 volumes, each with a separate title, and published from 1932-46. If taken as a single piece of fiction, it would be a strong contender for the longest novel ever written. Dave Sim's " Cerebus" was published between 1977 and 2004 as 300 individual 20-page comic books (and collected as 16 individual graphic novels) "Cerebus" is one 6,000-page story about the title character, Cerebus the aardvark. Since the work contains both words and pictures, the exact number of characters is difficult to ascertain. Sim calls the work a "sustained narrative." Popular fiction series about a single protagonist, with multiple authors, can dwarf such records: " Perry Rhodan", a German series of novels about the eponymous space hero, is published since 1961 and can claim over 150 million words in over 2300 parts. [ [http://www.wimb.net/index.php?s=home&page=7 Perry Rhodan - Homepages - www.wimb.net] ]
Longest novels in scripts other than Latin or Cyrillic
East Asian languages, like Chinese or Japanese, are more compact in their written forms than their Western counterparts. As such these works are often lengthier in translations even if their character spacing required are the same as when compared to Cyrillic or Latin alphabets. Sohachi Yamaoka, "Tokugawa Ieyasu"
This 40-volume historical novel was serialized from 1950-67. The completed novel contains over 10 million Japanese characters. It is not just the longest novel in the Japanese language, but also one of the longest in any language.
Nakazato Kaizan: " Daibosatsu Toge"
Published in 41 volumes and 1533 chapters, this historical novel was the longest in the Japanese language until "Tokugawa Ieyasu". 5.7 million Japanese characters. [ [http://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/4807404083 Amazon.co.jp： ザ・大菩薩峠―『大菩薩峠』全編全一冊: 中里 介山: 本] ]
Li Guiyu: "Dream of the Pomegranate Flowers"
Completed 1841. 4,838,400 Chinese characters. [ [http://wordpedia.pidc.org.tw/Content.asp?ID=59961&Query=] ] Written in recitative verse, this is the longest narrative in the Chinese language, four times longer than "
Dream of the Red Chamber". Critics differ in opinion whether to classify it as a novel or narrative poem. Yang Fuguo, "Kuangshi Qiyuan"
Projected at 4.2 million Chinese characters, this novel is completed but has not yet been published in its entirety. Once publishing is complete, it would be the longest Chinese-language prose novel published. The first volume was published in 2005. [ [http://ent.sina.com.cn/x/2005-02-25/0816661814.html 国内最长小说共420万字_影音娱乐_新浪网] ]
Yao Xueyin, " Li Zicheng"
This historical novel, completed in 1999, has the distinction of being the longest modern Chinese-language novel printed, at 3.4 million
Chinese characters. It was published in 5 volumes over 40 years. Vilasini, " Avakasikal"
Reputedly the longest novel in any Indian language, "Avakasikal" was written in
Malayalam. It runs 3,958 pages in four volumes and took 10 years to complete. [ [http://www.dcbooks.com/malayalam.htm] ] Cao Xueqin, " Dream of the Red Chamber"
Written in the
18th century. Currently published as a 120-chapter, five-book sequence, running over 2500 pages. [ [http://www.complete-review.com/reviews/orientalia/tsots.htm The Story of the Stone (Dream of the Red Chamber) - Cao Xueqin] ] The incomplete English translation at Project Gutenbergcontains over 440,000 words and over 2.4 million characters. At slightly over 1 million Chinese characters, however, it is not even remotely the longest Chinese-language novel (see above).
The 1999 Beijing edition (English translation) contains 4 volumes with a total of 2556 pages.
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