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This is a list of the longest novels over 500,000 words published through a mainstream publisher. Until recently, the longest novel was 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.[1]

In 2013, the final volumes of Robert Jordan's sprawling epic fantasy magnum opus, The Wheel of Time, was published posthumously; its 4.4 million words (over twice as many as Artamène and ten times as many as The Lord of the Rings, itself regarded as lengthy) are spread across fourteen volumes.

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 counts are a direct way to measure the length of a novel by a measure that is unaffected by variations of format and page size.


Comparison of methodsEdit

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.[2] 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 currently preferred method for academia and publications.[3] An arbitrary way is to assume that a standard formatted page with 12 pt Courier font and double-spaced lines is 250 words.[4] 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 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 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.


For the purposes of this 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. Ideally, the comprehensive whole should follow the lives of the same characters in more or less chronological order.

The following are not be considered "single works": self-published, printed-on-demand, vanity works, unpublished novels (such as Henry Darger's), novel sequences, cycles, and "continuing adventures" series (such as the James Bond, Hercule Poirot, Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Sherlock Holmes, and Stainless Steel Rat books), as well as shared-universes in which multiple stand-alone or independent works have a common setting (e.g., the Chronicles of Barsetshire, Discworld, and Malazan), and multi-dynastic historical epic series (such as Venmurasu), and novels created solely for the purpose of record grabbing.

For example, the three volumes comprising The Lord of the Rings are considered one novel, but Tolkien's collective works set in Middle-earth are not.


Book title Author Edition/publisher Page count Page size Word count Language Notes

The Wheel of Time Robert Jordan Tor Books (US), Orbit Books (UK) 10,173 pages hardback, 11,916 pages paperback, fourteen volumes 4,410,036 English 23 years from first installment in 1990 to 2013 posthumous completion by Brandon Sanderson.
A Song of Ice and Fire George R. R. Martin Bantam Books (US), Voyager Books (UK) series incomplete circa 2017 1,700,000 English 1.7 million+ words in first five novels, with at least two more planned.
Harry Potter J. K. Rowling Bloomsbury Publishing (UK)
Arthur A. Levine Books (US)
Little, Brown (UK)
3,407-4,100 depending upon publisher 1,084,170[5] English seven volumes
Artamène ou le Grand Cyrus ScuderyGeorges and/or[6] Madeleine de Scudéry Augustin Courbé, 1649–53 13,095 pages, ten volumes[7] 1,954,300[8] French
Gordana Marija Jurić Zagorka Školska knjiga, 2007 8,768 pages, twelve volumes[9][10][11] 1,400,000 (estimated) Croatian The longest Croatian novel.
A La RechercheÀ la recherche du temps perdu ProustMarcel Proust Gallimard (Collection Folio edition, 1988–1990) 3,031 pages, seven volumes[12] 7.0 inches (17.8 cm) x 5.0 inches (12.7 cm)[13] 1,267,069[14] French Guinness World Record holder for longest novel. Uses estimated character count of 9,609,000 characters.[15]
Zettels Traum SchmidtArno Schmidt Suhrkamp Verlag (2010 edition) 1,536 pages 14.1 inches (35.8 cm) x 10.8 inches (27.4 cm)[16] 1,100,000 (estimated) German 6,800,000 characters;[17] longest novel published in one volume.
Clarissa, or, the History of a Young Lady RichardsonSamuel Richardson Penguin Classics (1986) 1,534 pages, paperback 9.2 inches (23.4 cm) x 5.8 inches (14.7 cm)[18] 984,870 (1964 estimate by The New York Times[19]) English
Het Bureau J. J. Voskuil Van Oorschot, 1996-2000 5,058 pages, seven volumes 126 x 200mm 1,590,000[20] Dutch
Kelidar Mahmoud Dowlatabadi Farhang Moaaser 2,836 pages, ten volumes [21] 950,000 [21] Persian The longest Persian novel.
Poor Fellow My Country HerbertXavier Herbert HarperCollins Publishers (Australia) 1,466 pages, hardcover 8.1 inches (20.6 cm) x 5.6 inches (14.2 cm)[22] 852,000[23] English 1975 winner of the Miles Franklin Award[24]
Women and Men McelroyJoseph McElroy Knopf (1987) 1,192 pages, hardcover 9 inches (22.9 cm) x 6 inches (15.2 cm)[25] 850,000 (estimated[26])

700,000 (estimated[27])

Dream of the Red Chamber紅樓夢 (Dream of the Red Chamber) Cao Xueqin Penguin Classics 2,339 7.75 inches (19.7 cm) x 5 inches (13 cm) 845,000 (estimated) Chinese to English translation (see this page's "Talk" tab for the detailed calculation)
Sironia, Texas CooperMadison Cooper Houghton Mifflin (1952) 1,731 pages, two volumes[28] 840,000 (estimated[29][30]) English
Romancxe三國演義 (Romance of the Three Kingdoms) GuanzhongLuo Guanzhong Foreign Languages Press (1995) 2,340 pages, four volumes 7.2 inches (18.3 cm) x 4.5 inches (11.4 cm)[31] 800,000 (estimate[32]) Chinese to English translation
Miss MacIntosh, My Darling YoungMarguerite Young Scribners (1965) 1,198 pages 750,000 (estimated[33]) 576,000 (estimated[34]) English
Jerusalem Moore Alan Moore Knockabout (2016) 1,266 pages 16.8 x 24.4 cm 600,000 (estimated[35]) English
Sir Charles Grandison Samuel Richardson Oxford World's Classics (1986) 1,647 pages 4.6 x 2.1 x 7.2 inches 750,000 (estimated) English
Les Misérables HugoVictor Hugo Gutenberg ebook edition 655,478[36] French
Varney the Vampire RymerJames Malcolm Rymer and Thomas Peckett Prest Edward Lloyd (1845–47) 866 pages 667,000[37] English Originally published anonymously, in serial "penny dreadful" pamphlets. Present-day opinions are divided its regarding authorship.
Atlas Shrugged RandAyn Rand Signet Books (1996 edition) 1,088 pages, paperback 6.9 inches (17.5 cm) x 4.1 inches (10.4 cm)[38] 645,000 (estimate by the publisher and by The New York Times[39] and by the author herself quoting printer's word count[40]) English
Jean-Christophe RollandRomain Rolland Henry Holt (1910,1911,1913) 1,666 pages, three volumes 610,000 (estimated) French to English translation Author received the 1915 Nobel Prize for Literature.
And ladies"...And Ladies of the Club" SantmyerHelen Hooven Santmyer Ohio State University Press (1982) 1,344 pages 600,000 (newspaper estimate)[41] English 1984 surprise bestseller
Suitable A Suitable Boy SethVikram Seth Penguin Books 1,368 pages, paperback 8 inches (20.3 cm) x 5.5 inches (14 cm)[42] 593,674[42] English Word count obtained from Amazon digitization (eBook) word count.
F. L. Věk JirasekAlois Jirásek CeskoslovenskyČeskoslovenský spisovatel (last printed edition, 1976–1977) 1,870 pages[43] 571,350 Czech Word count obtained from 2011 eBook.[44]
War And PeaceВойна и мир (War and Peace) TolstoyLeo Tolstoy Oxford World's Classics 1,440 pages, paperback 7.6 inches (19.3 cm) x 5.1 inches (13.0 cm)[45] 587,287 New American Library Version[46] and 561,093 Oxford World's Classics[47] Russian to English translation Edition and translation largely account for differences in word count.
MulinoIl mulino del Po BacchelliRiccardo Bacchelli Arnoldo Mondadori Editore 2,113 pages, paperback 8 inches (20 cm) x 5.4 inches (14 cm)[48] 559,830[citation needed] Italian
Infinite Jest WallaceDavid Foster Wallace Back Bay Books 1,104 pages, paperback 9.2 inches (23.4 cm) x 6 inches (15.2 cm)[49] 543,709 English
Remembrance Rock SandburgCarl Sandburg Mariner Books 1,088 pages, paperback 9 inches (22.9 cm) x 6 inches (15.2 cm)[50] 532,030[50] and 673,000[51] English Word counts obtained from Amazon digitization (eBook) word count, and author's own count.
To Green Angel Tower WilliamsTad Williams DAW Books 1,083 pages, hardcover 520,000[52] English Word counts obtained from Amazon digitization (eBook) word count.
Horcynus Orca DarrigoStefano D'Arrigo Arnoldo Mondadori Editore 1,257 pages, hardcover 8.2 inches (21 cm) x 5.6 inches (14.2 cm)[53] 508,751[54][citation needed] Italian
ParallelPárhuzamos történetek (Parallel Stories) NadasPéter Nádas Picador 1,133 pages, paperback 8.9 inches (22.6 cm) x 6 inches (15.2 cm)[55] 500,000 (estimated)[56] Hungarian to English translation 2,842,213 characters (in the original Hungarian)[57]
The Lord of the Rings J.R.R. Tolkien 481,103[58] English

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ The name of her brother Georges appeared on the title page, and he is sometimes credited as a co-author.
  2. ^ "Longest novel". 1912-01-01. Retrieved 2012-10-31. 
  3. ^ "Find the Agent Who Will Find You a Publisher". AgentQuery. Retrieved 2012-10-31. 
  4. ^ "Hitting the Target Word Count in Your College Admission Essay – For Dummies". 2008-11-07. Retrieved 2012-10-31. 
  5. ^ "How Many Words Are There in the Harry Potter Book Series?". Word Counter Blog. Retrieved 22 September 2016. 
  6. ^ 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. 
  7. ^ "accueil". Artamène ou le Grand Cyrus. Retrieved 2013-12-30. 
  8. ^ Word count of the online edition, using curl[1-10].txt | wc -w
  9. ^ "Gordana – Kraljica Hrvata". Školska knjiga. 
  10. ^ "Gordana kraljica Hrvata". Goodreads. 
  11. ^ "Gordana kraljica Hrvata". Najbolje knjige – Hrvatski portal za knjige. 
  12. ^ See Éditions d'À la recherche du temps perdu#Tableau de correspondance, French Wikipedia.
  13. ^ Bibliothéque Nationale de France catalogue. Retrieved 2013-11-15.
  14. ^ 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. 
  15. ^ "Longest novel". 1912-01-01. Retrieved 2012-10-31. 
  16. ^ Arno Schmidt. Zettel's Traum. ISBN 9783518803103. 
  17. ^ Günter Jürgensmeier (2013), "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 
  18. ^ Samuel Richardson. Clarissa: Or the History of a Young Lady. Penguin Classics. ISBN 9780140432152. 
  19. ^ Hal Boyle Genius isn't all thumbs, writer Boyle confides Florence, Alabama:Times Daily 23 April 1962 (via Google news archive)
  20. ^ source: Loads o' Lists: 21 Longest Novels (by word count)
  21. ^ a b
  22. ^ Xavier Herbert. Poor Fellow My Country. ISBN 9780006160298. 
  23. ^ Poor fellow my ears The Age 29 December 1987 (via Google news archive)
  24. ^ Top award to Xavier Herbert Sydney Morning Herald 28 April 1976 (via Google news archive)
  25. ^ Joseph McElroy. Women and Men. ISBN 9781564780232. 
  26. ^ Karl, Frederick (Spring 1990). "Women and Men: More than a novel". Review of Contemporary Fiction. p. 181. 
  27. ^ Garth Risk Hallberg (2009-07-07). "The lost postmodernist: Joseph McElroy". Retrieved 2012-10-31. 
  28. ^ Nichols, Lewis (1952-11-09). "Talk with Madison Cooper – Review". Retrieved 2012-10-31. 
  29. ^ "Author a bachelor; so he has time to write longest novel". Chicago Tribune. 1952-11-16. Retrieved 2012-10-31.  (via
  30. ^ 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)
  31. ^ Luo Guanzhong. Three Kingdoms. ISBN 9787119005904. 
  32. ^ "Movie Review: Red Cliff". 2009-12-25. Retrieved 2012-10-31. 
  33. ^ Robert McG. Thomas Jr (1995-11-20). "Marguerite Young, 87, author and icon, dies". Retrieved 2012-11-04. 
  34. ^ Walters, Raymond, Jr (12 September 1965). "In and out of books". The New York Times. p. BR8. 
  35. ^ Steve Scoles (July 20, 2016). "Creating Jerusalem: Alan Moore on the most important book he has written". Northampton News. Retrieved October 12, 2016. 
  36. ^ Victor Hugo. "Les misérables, Tome I". Retrieved 2015-04-23. 
  37. ^ 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.
  38. ^ Ayn Rand. Atlas Shrugged. ISBN 9780451191144. 
  39. ^ Nichols, Lewis (1957-10-13). "Talk With Ayn Rand – Author's Query". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-10-31. 
  40. ^ Rand, Ayn. The Art of Fiction: A Guide for Writers and Readers. Retrieved 2012-10-31. 
  41. ^ Schott, Webster (1984-07-01). "An Epic of Hometown, U.S.A.". Washington Post Book World. p. 5. 
  42. ^ a b Vikram Seth. A Suitable Boy. ISBN 9780060925000. 
  43. ^ 1972 ed.
  44. ^ Prague Public Library catalogue: F. L. Věk (in five volumes)"Search: Jirásek, Alois F. L. Věk". Retrieved 2014-06-25. 
  45. ^ Leo Tolstoy. War and Peace. Louise and Aylmer Maude, Amy Mandelker. Oxford World's Classics. ISBN 9780199232765. 
  46. ^ Tolstoy, Leo; Dunnigan, Ann. "War and Peace". Retrieved 2012-10-31. 
  47. ^ Leo Tolstoy. War and Peace. Henry Gifford, Louise Maude, Aylmer Maude. Oxford World's Classics. ISBN 9780192833983. 
  48. ^ OPAC Archive
  49. ^ David Foster Wallace. Infinite Jest. Amazon. ISBN 9780316066525. 
  50. ^ a b Carl Sandburg. Remembrance Rock. Amazon. ISBN 9780156763905. 
  51. ^ author, quoted in Corwin, Norman (1961). The World of Carl Sandburg. Harcourt, Brace & World. p. 8. 
  52. ^ Walsh, Alex (2014-04-04). "Tad Williams to release sequel to Memory, Sorrow & Thorn". Retrieved 2014-04-13. 
  53. ^ "HORCYNUS Orca di D'Arrigo, Stefano " Rete bibliotecaria della Provincia di Padova". bibliotecaria della Provincia di Padova. 2012-07-22. Retrieved 2012-10-31. 
  54. ^ "TNTforum -> Stefano D'Arrigo – Horcynus Orca". Retrieved 2012-10-31. 
  55. ^ Péter Nádas. Parallel Stories. ISBN 1250013909. 
  56. ^ Based on other English-Hungarian pairs of the same piece of literature (such as authoritative translations of The Little Prince), the English version usually has 1/6 to 1/3 more words. Since the Hungarian original has 412,330 words, the English version of this novel may be estimated to have 480,000 to 550,000 words.
  57. ^ Hungarian original text in full (copied into Microsoft Word, the left-side notes of the volume and the page (kite, o[ldal]) as well as the bibliographical data at the top-right corner removed, motto and foreword left).
  58. ^
  59. ^ Jenny Turner, "The Secret Sharer. Elena Ferrante's existential fiction", Harper's Magazine, October 2014.

External linksEdit