List of longest novels
This is a list of the longest novels over 500,000 words published through a mainstream publisher. The longest novel is Artamène ou le Grand Cyrus, originally published (1649–54) in ten parts, each part in three volumes. Artamène is generally attributed to Madeleine de Scudéry.
Composing a list of longest novels yields different results depending on whether pages, words or characters are counted. Length of a book is typically associated with its size—specifically page count—leading many to assume the largest and thickest book equates to its length. Word count is a direct way to measure the length of a novel in a manner unaffected by variations of format and page size.
Comparison of methods
Three possible ways to determine length exist and each has its own method for determining length. Character counts are at best estimations of spaces, written characters and punctuation; Guinness World Records uses this criterion. Word counts is another method that counts each word and omits punctuation, but still considered an estimation for length. Using computer software to count words is the current preferred method for academia and publications. An arbitrary way is to assume that a standard formatted page with 12 pt Courier font and double-spaced lines is 250 words. Due to formatting, page counts are subject to change from font, style, formatting or paper size of the published work and cannot be considered a measure of length despite it being the easiest physical indicator of length. For the purposes of this list, word counts are ideal. Page counts are a relative indicator of length; for proper comparison the page size will be included.
Some difficulty is created when comparing word counts across different writing systems. The logographic Chinese characters used to write East Asian languages each represent one morpheme and are not separated by spaces. The same character may at times stand for one word, and other times form part of a larger word. For instance the characters zhong 中 and guo 囯 can be used independently to mean "middle" and "kingdom", respectively, but can also be combined into Zhongguo 中囯, "China" (i.e. "The Middle Kingdom"). One could theoretically construct a noun phrase Zhongguo zhong guo 中囯中囯 meaning "kingdoms in the middle of China". The absence of any formal marking of word boundaries means that it would be difficult to mechanically determine if such a phrase consists of two, three, or four words without knowing Chinese. East Asian bibliographies therefore generally give only the character count without attempting any word count.
While a rough approximation might seemingly be gotten from citing the word count of a translation into a Latin alphabet language like English, this is hazardous as the great grammatical and stylistic differences between the languages might cause one to require more or fewer words to convey the same meaning as the other. Citing a translation only indicates how many words are required to convey the same meaning in the target text, not how many words the source text actually consists of.
What counts as a novel is another variable. For the purposes of the list, a "novel" is defined as a single work in print or electronic form that has been published through a mainstream publisher, one that has acquired publishing rights from authors. A "single work" includes works thought of as one novel by the author, but published in multiple volumes for reasons of convenience.
Excluded are self-published, printed-on-demand, vanity works, unpublished novels like Henry Darger's, novel sequences like the Chronicles of Barsetshire, novel cycles such as those set in the James Bond universe, and record-grabbing stunts. Also not included are any Internet novel (mainly in China).[clarification needed]
|Book title||Author||Edition/publisher||Page count||Volumes||Page size||Word count||Language||Notes|
|Artamène ou le Grand Cyrus||Georges and/or Madeleine de Scudéry||Augustin Courbé, 1649–53||13,095 pages||Ten||1,954,300||French|
|Het Bureau||J. J. Voskuil||Van Oorschot, 1996-2000||5,058 pages||Seven||7.85 inches (19.9 cm) x 4.95 inches (12.6 cm)||1,590,000||Dutch|
|Venmurasu||Jeyamohan||Narrinai/Kizhakku||11,159 pages||Thirteen||8.25 inches (21.0 cm) x 5.85 inches (14.9 cm)||1,556,028 (as of August 9, 2016)||Tamil||Ongoing novel based on Mahabaratham - written so far 15 volumes and 13 published as books.|
|Gordana||Marija Jurić Zagorka||Školska knjiga, 2007||8,768 pages||Twelve||1,400,000 (estimated)||Croatian||The longest Croatian novel.|
|À la recherche du temps perdu||Marcel Proust||Gallimard (Collection Folio edition, 1988–1990)||3,031 pages||Seven||7 inches (17.8 cm) x 5 inches (12.7 cm)||1,267,069||French||Guinness World Record holder for longest novel. Uses estimated character count of 9,609,000 characters.|
|The Deer and the Cauldron (鹿鼎記)||Jin Yong (金庸)||Ming Pao (1972)||2,133 pages||Five||1,230,000 (estimated)||Chinese|
|Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils (天龍八部)||Jin Yong||Ming Pao (1963)||2,130 pages||Five||1,211,000 (estimated)||Chinese|
|Zettels Traum||Arno Schmidt||Suhrkamp Verlag (2010 edition)||1,536 pages||One||14.1 inches (35.8 cm) x 10.8 inches (27.4 cm)||1,100,000 (estimated)||German||6,800,000 characters; longest novel published in one volume|
|A Dance to the Music of Time||Anthony Powell||?||Twelve||1,000,000||English|
|Kelidar||Mahmoud Dowlatabadi||Farhang Moaaser||2,836 pages||Ten||950,000||Persian||The longest Persian novel|
|Clarissa, or, the History of a Young Lady||Samuel Richardson||Penguin Classics (1986)||1,534 pages||Seven||9.2 inches (23.4 cm) x 5.8 inches (14.7 cm)||943,000 and 984,870||English||Word count obtained through Project Gutenberg digitization and 1964 estimate by The New York Times|
|Ponniyin Selvan||Kalki Krishnamurthy||(1950 edition)||2,400 pages||Five||900,000||Tamil||Released in five volumes, this historical novel, originally written in Tamil, tells the story of Arulmozhivarman (Raja Raja Chola I), one of the kings of the Chola Dynasty|
|Poor Fellow My Country||Xavier Herbert||HarperCollins Publishers (Australia)||1,466 pages, hardcover||One||8.1 inches (20.6 cm) x 5.6 inches (14.2 cm)||852,000||English||1975 winner of the Miles Franklin Award|
|Women and Men||Joseph McElroy||Knopf (1987)||1,192 pages, hardcover||One||9 inches (22.9 cm) x 6 inches (15.2 cm)||)
|The Story Of The Stone (紅樓夢)||Cao Xueqin||Penguin Classics||2,339||One||7.75 inches (19.7 cm) x 5 inches (13 cm)||845,000 (estimated)||Chinese to English translation|
|Sironia, Texas||Madison Cooper||Houghton Mifflin (1952)||1,731 pages||Two||)840,000 (estimated||English|
|Romance of the Three Kingdoms (三國演義)||Luo Guanzhong||Foreign Languages Press (1995)||2,340 pages||Four||7.2 inches (18.3 cm) x 4.5 inches (11.4 cm)||)800,000 (estimate||Chinese to English translation|
|Miss MacIntosh, My Darling||Marguerite Young||Scribners (1965)||1,198 pages||One||) 576,000 (estimated)750,000 (estimated||English|
|Sir Charles Grandison||Samuel Richardson||Oxford World's Classics (1986)||1,647 pages||One||7.2 inches (18.3 cm) x 4.6 inches (11.7 cm)||750,000 (estimated)||English|
|Varney the Vampire||James Malcolm Rymer and Thomas Peckett Prest||Edward Lloyd (1845–47)||866 pages||One||667,000||English||Originally published anonymously, in serial "penny dreadful" pamphlets. Present-day opinions are divided regarding its authorship.|
|Les Misérables||Victor Hugo||Signet Classics edition||1,462 pages||One||655,478||French|
|Atlas Shrugged||Ayn Rand||Signet Books (1996 edition)||1,088 pages, paperback||One||6.9 inches (17.5 cm) x 4.1 inches (10.4 cm)||The New York Times and by the author herself quoting printer's word count)645,000 (estimate by the publisher and by||English|
|Jean-Christophe||Romain Rolland||Henry Holt (1910,1911,1913)||1,666 pages||Three||610,000 (estimated)||French to English translation||Author received the 1915 Nobel Prize for Literature.|
|Jerusalem||Alan Moore||Knockabout (2016)||1,266 pages||One||9.6 inches (24.4 cm) x 6.6 inches (16.8 cm)||)600,000 (estimated||English|
|"...And Ladies of the Club"||Helen Hooven Santmyer||Ohio State University Press (1982)||1,344 pages||One||600,000 (newspaper estimate)||English||1984 surprise bestseller|
|A Suitable Boy||Vikram Seth||Penguin Books||1,368 pages, paperback||One||8 inches (20.3 cm) x 5.5 inches (14 cm)||593,674||English||Word count obtained from Amazon digitization (eBook) word count.|
|Война и мир (War and Peace)||Leo Tolstoy||Oxford World's Classics||1,440 pages, paperback||One||7.6 inches (19.3 cm) x 5.1 inches (13.0 cm)|| and 561,093 Oxford World's Classics587,287 New American Library Version||Russian to English translation||Edition and translation largely account for differences in word count.|
|F. L. Věk||Alois Jirásek||Československý spisovatel (last printed edition, 1976–1977)||1,870 pages (1972 ed.)||One||571,350||Czech||Word count obtained from 2011 eBook.|
|Il mulino del Po||Riccardo Bacchelli||Arnoldo Mondadori Editore||2,113 pages, paperback||One||8 inches (20.3 cm) x 5.4 inches (13.7 cm)||citation needed]559,830[||Italian|
|Infinite Jest||David Foster Wallace||Back Bay Books||1,104 pages, paperback||One||9.2 inches (23.4 cm) x 6 inches (15.2 cm)||543,709||English|
|Remembrance Rock||Carl Sandburg||Mariner Books||1,088 pages, paperback||One||9 inches (22.9 cm) x 6 inches (15.2 cm)|| and 673,000532,030||English||Word counts obtained from Amazon digitization (eBook) word count, and author's own count.|
|To Green Angel Tower||Tad Williams||DAW Books||1,083 pages, hardcover||One||520,000||English||Word counts obtained from Amazon digitization (eBook) word count.|
|Anniversaries. From the Life of Gesine Cresspahl||Uwe Johnson||Mariner Books (Vol. 1), Harcourt (Vol. 2)||1,156 pages (Leila Vennewitz translation) or 1,720 pages (Damion Searls translation)||Two||510,638||German||Word count obtained from eBook digitization of (abridged) Vennewitz translation.|
|Horcynus Orca||Stefano D'Arrigo||Arnoldo Mondadori Editore||1,257 pages, hardcover||One||8.2 inches (20.8 cm) x 5.6 inches (14.2 cm)||508,751||Italian|
Other list (non Latin and Cyrillic)
- Tokugawa Ieyasu by Sohachi Yamaoka: The 40 volumes of this historical novel were published serially between 1950 and 1967. The complete text includes more than 10 million Japanese characters. It is the longest Japanese novel but also one of the longest ever written.
- The Popular Romance of Chinese Dynasties by Cai Dongfan: Published in 11 volumes and 1080 chapters (1040 chapters by Cai Dongfan, the last 40 chapters by Xu Jinfu), this historical novel includes 6 million Chinese characters.
- Daibosatsu Toge by Nakazato Kaizan: Published in 41 volumes and 1533 chapters, this historical novel includes 5.7 million Japanese characters.
- On the Plateau by Zhang Wei: Scheduled to include 4.5 million Chinese characters, the ten volume fully published in 2010 and became the longest Chinese novel in prose.
- The Swordspeople from Shu Mountains by Huanzhulouzhu: Published in 309 chapters, this Wuxia novel includes 4.1 million Chinese characters.
- Li Zicheng by Yao Xueyin: This historical novel completed in 1999 includes 3.4 million Chinese characters. It has been published in 5 volumes over a period of 40 years. It is currently the longest novel published in modern Chinese.
- Avakasikal by Vilasini: This book in Malayalam is known as the longest written in an Indian language. It contains 3,958 pages in four volumes and took 10 years to complete.
- Four Great Classical Novels, an overview of four very long Chinese classics.
- Joseph and His Brothers, by Thomas Mann, is nearly 1500 pages long in English translation by John E. Wood. Originally published in four installments, the work does constitute a true, continuous novel rather than a serialization.
- The Neapolitan Novels series, by Elena Ferrante, is more than 1,700 pages long in its English translation. Published in four volumes, it is considered by its author "a single novel, published serially for reasons of length and duration".
- List of manga series by volume count
- The name of her brother Georges appeared on the title page, and he is sometimes credited as a co-author.
- "Longest novel". Guinnessworldrecords.com. 1912-01-01. Retrieved 2012-10-31.
- "Find the Agent Who Will Find You a Publisher". AgentQuery. Retrieved 2012-10-31.
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- Scholarly consensus does not exist: Georges' name is on the original editions, it is commonly believed his sister Madeleine was the true author, yet no close textual analysis has been attempted. See the summary at "œuvre". Artamène ou le Grand Cyrus. Retrieved 2013-12-30.
- "accueil". Artamène ou le Grand Cyrus. Retrieved 2013-12-30.
- Word count of the online edition, using
curl http://www.artamene.org/documents/cyrus[permanent dead link][1-10].txt | wc -w
- source: Loads o' Lists: 21 Longest Novels (by word count)
- Jeyamohan. Mutharkanal. Amazon.in. ISBN 9789384149093.
- Jeyamohan. Malaipaadal. Amazon.in. ISBN 9789384149192.
- Jeyamohan. Vannakadal. Amazon.in. ISBN 9789384149215.
- Jeyamohan. Neelam. Amazon.in. ISBN 9789384149246.
- Jeyamohan. Venmugil nagaram. Amazon.in. ISBN 9789384149321.
- Jeyamohan. Indraneelam. Amazon.in. ISBN 9789384149710.
- Jeyamohan. Prayaagai. Amazon.in. ISBN 9789384149161.
- Jeyamohan. Veyyon. Amazon.in. ISBN 9789384149970.
- Jeyamohan. Kandeepam. Amazon.in. ISBN 9789384149765.
- Jeyamohan. Panniru padaikkalam. Amazon.in. ISBN 9788184937152.
- Jeyamohan. Solvalarkaadu. Amazon.in. ISBN 9788184937398.
- Jeyamohan. Kiratham. Amazon.in. ISBN 9788184938098.
- Jeyamohan. Maamalar. Amazon.in. ISBN 9788184938203.
- "Gordana – Kraljica Hrvata". Školska knjiga. Archived from the original on 2015-05-18. Retrieved 2015-05-09.
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- Bibliothéque Nationale de France catalogue. Retrieved 2013-11-15.
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- Arno Schmidt. Zettel's Traum. Amazon.de. ISBN 9783518803103.
- Günter Jürgensmeier, "Das verfluchte Buch. Über das gefahrvolle Wagnis, Zettel's Traum zu setzen" (in German), Zettelkasten 27. Aufsätze und Arbeiten zum Werk Arno Schmidts (Wiesenbach: Bangert & Metzler): pp. 42, ISBN 978-3-924147-64-8
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- Samuel Richardson. Clarissa: Or the History of a Young Lady. Penguin Classics. ISBN 9780140432152.
- Hal Boyle Genius isn't all thumbs, writer Boyle confides Florence, Alabama:Times Daily 23 April 1962 (via Google news archive)
- Xavier Herbert. Poor Fellow My Country. Amazon.com. ISBN 9780006160298.
- Poor fellow my ears The Age 29 December 1987 (via Google news archive)
- Top award to Xavier Herbert Sydney Morning Herald 28 April 1976 (via Google news archive)
- Joseph McElroy. Women and Men. Amazon.com. ISBN 9781564780232.
- Karl, Frederick (Spring 1990). "Women and Men: More than a novel". Review of Contemporary Fiction. p. 181.
- Garth Risk Hallberg (2009-07-07). "The lost postmodernist: Joseph McElroy". Latimesblogs.latimes.com. Retrieved 2012-10-31.
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- Author of 1,800 page novel in New York looking after plans for publication of big book The Times-News 27 October 1952 (via Google news archive)
- Luo Guanzhong. Three Kingdoms. Amazon.com. ISBN 9787119005904.
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- Calculated from "Varney the Vampire". Internet Archive, Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia Library. the complete text at the University of Virginia. Note that some on-line editions are incomplete.
- Victor Hugo. "Les misérables, Tome I". Retrieved 2015-04-23.
- Ayn Rand. Atlas Shrugged. Amazon.com. ISBN 9780451191144.
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- Schott, Webster (1984-07-01). "An Epic of Hometown, U.S.A." Washington Post Book World. p. 5.
- Vikram Seth. A Suitable Boy. Amazon.com. ISBN 9780060925000.
- Leo Tolstoy. War and Peace. Louise and Aylmer Maude, Amy Mandelker. Oxford World's Classics. ISBN 9780199232765.
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- Leo Tolstoy. War and Peace. Henry Gifford, Louise Maude, Aylmer Maude. Oxford World's Classics. ISBN 9780192833983.
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