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.
Compiling 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; however different languages have words of different average lengths.
Comparison of methods
There are at least three ways to determine length:
- Character count is at best an estimation of spaces, written characters and punctuation; Guinness World Records uses this criterion.
- Word count (omitting punctuation) is another method. Using computer software to count words is the current preferred method for academia and publications. However it is not very meaningful when comparing different languages, for instance because some languages use more words to express a given idea than others. A rough way to count words in an English language text is to assume that a standard formatted page with 12 pt Courier font and double-spaced lines is 250 words.
- Due to formatting, page count is subject to change from font, style, formatting or paper size of the published work and cannot be considered a reliable measure of length, despite it being the easiest physical indicator of length.
For the purposes of this list, word count is ideal. Page count is a rough indicator of length; for completeness the page size will be included.
A particular 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 国 can be used independently to mean "middle" and "kingdom", respectively, but can also be combined into Zhongguo 中国, "China" (i.e. "The Middle Kingdom"). One could theoretically construct a noun phrase Zhongguo zhong guo 中国中国 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.
A rough approximation can sometimes be obtained by citing the word count of a translation into a Latin alphabet language like English (if such a translation exists), but this will vary to some extent depending on the style of English adopted by the translator. However citing a translation has the advantage that it indicates how many words are required to convey the same meaning in the target text, not how many "words" the source text actually contains.
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 and 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 written solely for the title of the longest work.
|Volumes||Page size||Word count||Language||Notes|
|Les Hommes de bonne volonté||Jules Romains||Groupe Flammarion||7,892||27||2,070,000||French||English title: Men of Good Will|
|Devta||Mohiuddin Nawab||Suspense Digest||56||1,206,310||Urdu||Started in 1977 and ended in 2010 (33 years)|
|Artamène ou le Grand Cyrus||Georges and/or Madeleine de Scudéry||Augustin Courbé, 1649–53||13,095||10||1,954,300||French|
|Het Bureau||J. J. Voskuil||Van Oorschot, 1996-2000||5,058||7||7.85 inches (19.9 cm) x 4.95 inches (12.6 cm)||1,590,000||Dutch|
|Venmurasu||Jeyamohan||Narrinai/Kizhakku||11,159||13||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. However according to the article, at least 15 volumes have now been published, so the given figures are probably out of date.|
|Gordana||Marija Jurić Zagorka||Školska knjiga, 2007||8,768||12||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||7||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.|
|Zettels Traum||Arno Schmidt||Suhrkamp Verlag (2010 edition)||1,536||1||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||?||12||1,000,000||English|
|Kelidar||Mahmoud Dowlatabadi||Farhang Moaaser||2,836||10||950,000||Persian||The longest Persian novel|
|Clarissa, or, the History of a Young Lady||Samuel Richardson||Penguin Classics (1986)||1,534||7||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||5||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
|1||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
|1||9 inches (22.9 cm) x 6 inches (15.2 cm)||850,000 (estimated)
|Dream of the Red Chamber (紅樓夢)||Cao Xueqin||Penguin Classics||2,339||1||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||2||840,000 (estimated)||English|
|Romance of the Three Kingdoms (三國演義)||Luo Guanzhong||Foreign Languages Press (1995)||2,340||4||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||1||750,000 (estimated) 576,000 (estimated)||English|
|Sir Charles Grandison||Samuel Richardson||Oxford World's Classics (1986)||1,647||1||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||1||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||1||655,478||French|
|Atlas Shrugged||Ayn Rand||Signet Books (1996 edition)||1,088
|1||6.9 inches (17.5 cm) x 4.1 inches (10.4 cm)||645,000 (estimate by the publisher and by The New York Times and by the author herself quoting printer's word count)||English|
|Jean-Christophe||Romain Rolland||Henry Holt (1910,1911,1913)||1,666||3||610,000 (estimated)||French to English translation||Author received the 1915 Nobel Prize for Literature.|
|Jerusalem||Alan Moore||Knockabout (2016)||1,266||1||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||1||600,000 (newspaper estimate)||English||1984 surprise bestseller|
|A Suitable Boy||Vikram Seth||Penguin Books||1,368
|1||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
|1||7.6 inches (19.3 cm) x 5.1 inches (13.0 cm)||587,287 New American Library Version and 561,093 Oxford World's Classics||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
|1||571,350||Czech||Word count obtained from 2011 eBook.|
|Il mulino del Po||Riccardo Bacchelli||Arnoldo Mondadori Editore||2,113
|1||8 inches (20.3 cm) x 5.4 inches (13.7 cm)||559,830||Italian|
|Infinite Jest||David Foster Wallace||Back Bay Books||1,104
|1||9.2 inches (23.4 cm) x 6 inches (15.2 cm)||543,709||English|
|Remembrance Rock||Carl Sandburg||Mariner Books||1,088
|1||9 inches (22.9 cm) x 6 inches (15.2 cm)||532,030 and 673,000||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
|1||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
|2||510,638||German||Word count obtained from eBook digitization of (abridged) Vennewitz translation.|
|Horcynus Orca||Stefano D'Arrigo||Arnoldo Mondadori Editore||1,257
|1||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 9 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.
- The Chinese wuxia novelist Jin Yong wrote a number of long novels, of which the longest are The Deer and the Cauldron (1,230,000 characters) and Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils (16,211,000 characters).
- 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
- List of longest films
- 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.
- "Hitting the Target Word Count in Your College Admission Essay – For Dummies". Dummies.com. 2008-11-07. Retrieved 2012-10-31.
- 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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- See Éditions d'À la recherche du temps perdu#Tableau de correspondance, French Wikipedia.
- Bibliothéque Nationale de France catalogue. Retrieved 2013-11-15.
- Christophe Vignat. "Sur le Vocabulaire dans La Recherche". Université Paris-Est, Laboratoire d'Informatique de l'Institut Gaspard Monge, Equipe Signal et Communications. Retrieved 2013-11-14.
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- Arno Schmidt. Zettel's Traum. Amazon.de. ISBN 9783518803103.
- Günter Jürgensmeier (2013), "Das verfluchte Buch. Über das gefahrvolle Wagnis, Zettel's Traum zu setzen", Zettelkasten 27. Aufsätze und Arbeiten zum Werk Arno Schmidts (in German), Wiesenbach: Bangert & Metzler, p. 42, ISBN 978-3-924147-64-8
- "The 10 longest novels ever written". 6 June 2018. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
- 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.
- Nichols, Lewis (1952-11-09). "Talk with Madison Cooper – Review". nytimes.com. Retrieved 2012-10-31.
- "Author a bachelor; so he has time to write longest novel". Chicago Tribune. 1952-11-16. Retrieved 2012-10-31. (via Pqasb.pqarchiver.com)
- 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.
- "Movie Review: Red Cliff". Arkansasonline.com. 2009-12-25. Retrieved 2012-10-31.
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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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- Rand, Ayn. The Art of Fiction: A Guide for Writers and Readers. Retrieved 2012-10-31.
- Steve Scoles (July 20, 2016). "Creating Jerusalem: Alan Moore on the most important book he has written". Northampton News. Retrieved October 12, 2016.[permanent dead link]
- 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.
- Tolstoy, Leo; Dunnigan, Ann. "War and Peace". Perma-bound.com. Retrieved 2012-10-31.
- Leo Tolstoy. War and Peace. Henry Gifford, Louise Maude, Aylmer Maude. Oxford World's Classics. ISBN 9780192833983.
- Prague Public Library catalogue: F. L. Věk (in five volumes)"Search: Jirásek, Alois F. L. Věk". Retrieved 2014-06-25.
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