List of longest novels
This is a list of the novels over 500,000 words published through a mainstream publisher. Traditionally, Artamène ou le Grand Cyrus has been considered the longest novel, but it has been surpassed by at least one novel, or two depending on the criterion used to determine the length. 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, translating the story into different languages and dialects often results in differing word count.
Comparison of methodsEdit
There are at least three ways to determine length:
- Character count is at the best 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, the 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|
|Venmurasu||Jeyamohan||Natrinai/Kizhakku||22,400||26||8.25 inches (21.0 cm) x 5.85 inches (14.9 cm)||3,680,000 (estimated)||Tamil||A novel based on Mahabaratham, approximately 4722.2 pages, completed in July 2020 in 26 volumes.|
|Devta||Muhiyyu-d-Deen Nawaab||Suspense Digest||4,723||56||2,206,310 words||Urdu||Started in 1977 and ended in 2010 (33 years)|
|A Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight||Henry Williamson||Macdonald, 1951–1969||6,062||15||2,436,924||English|
|Les Hommes de bonne volonté||Jules Romains||Groupe Flammarion||7,892||27||2,070,000||French||English title: Men of Good Will|
|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|
|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.|
|Bottom's Dream||Arno Schmidt||Dalkey Archive Press||1,496||1||14.1 inches (35.8 cm) x 10.75 inches (27.3 cm)||1,100,000 (estimated)||English translation from German||6,800,000 characters; longest novel published in one volume|
|Joseph and His Brothers||Thomas Mann||Everyman's Library||1,492||4||14.1 inches (35.8 cm) x 10.8 inches (27.4 cm)||English Translation from German||The author retells the Biblical story of Jacob and Jospeh, setting it during the Amarna period during the reign of Pharaoh Akhenaten. The Nobel Laureate author considered it his magnum opus.|
|A Dance to the Music of Time||Anthony Powell||Arrow||3,024||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 (1987)||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|
|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|
|Sivagamiyin Sapatham||Kalki Krishnamurthy||CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform||910||4||9 inches (22.9 cm) x 6 inches (15.2 cm)||English translation from Tamil||Released in four volumes, this historical novel, originally written in Tamil, tells the story of Mahendravarman I, and his son Narasimhavarman I two of the kings of the Pallava Dynasty. The first part of a historical trilogy.|
|Ponniyin Selvan||Kalki Krishnamurthy||(1955 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. The third part of a historical trilogy.|
|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||5||7.75 inches (19.7 cm) x 5 inches (13 cm)||643,000||English translation from Chinese|
|The Plum in the Golden Vase (1610 version)/The Golden Lotus (1695 version) (Jin Ping Mei) (金瓶梅)||The Scoffing Scholar of Lanling (1695 version edited by Zhang Zhupo)||Princeton University Press (1610 version)/Tuttle Publishing (1695 version)||3,884 (1610 version) 1,280 (1695 version)||5 (1610 version)/2 (1695 version)||7.75 inches (19.7 cm) x 5 inches (13 cm)||English translation from Chinese||A spin-off from 'Water Margin. It was included in the 4 Classic Chinese Novels but later removed because of its genre but it is included in one of the 6 Classic Chinese Novels|
|Water Margin (水滸傳) (Outlaws of the Marsh/The Marshes of Mount Liang)||Shi Nai'an and Luo Guanzhong||The Chinese University Press (120-chapter version, slightly abridged)/Foreign Languages Press (A combination of the 70 and the 100-chapter version, unabridged)||2,304 (120-chapter version, slightly abridged)/2,149 (A combination of the 70 and the 100-chapter version, unabridged)||5 (120-chapter version, slightly abridged)/4 (A combination of the 70 and the 100-chapter version, unabridged)||7.75 inches (19.7 cm) x 5 inches (13 cm)||English translation from Chinese|
|Journey to the West (西遊記)||Wu Cheng'en||University of Chicago Press||1,896||4||9 inches (23 cm) x 6 inches (15 cm)||English translation from Chinese|
|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)||English translation from Chinese|
|Sironia, Texas||Madison Cooper||Houghton Mifflin (1952)||1,731||2||840,000 (estimated)||English|
|Shanghai||David Rotenberg||Penguin Canada (2008)||1,156||1||800,000 (estimated)||English||Written as a trilogy by the author but published in one volume.|
|Miss MacIntosh, My Darling||Marguerite Young||Scribners (1965)||1,198||1||750,000 (estimated) 576,000 (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.|
|Anniversaries. From the Life of Gesine Cresspahl||Uwe Johnson||New York Review of Books Classics (2018)||1,720
|2||665,441||English translation from German||Word count obtained from eBook digitization of Searles translation.|
|Les Misérables||Victor Hugo||Penguin Classics edition||1,456||1||8.38 inches (21.3 cm) x 5.6 inches (14.2 cm)||545,925||English translation from 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)||English translation from French||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||Signet Classics||1,456
|1||7 x 1 x 5 inches||English translation from Russian||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
|3||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.|
|It||Stephen King||Viking||1,138||1||English||Winner, British Fantasy Award’s August Derleth Award, 1987;|
Nominee, World Fantasy Award, 1987;
Runner-up (3rd place), Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel, 1987
|The Stand: The Complete & Uncut Edition||Stephen King||Doubleday||1,152||1||English||Runner-up (2nd place), Locus Award's Best Horror/Dark Fantasy Novel, 1991|
|Under the Dome||Stephen King||Scribner||1,074||1||English||Nominee, British Fantasy Award's August Derleth Award, 2010;|
Runner-up (7th place), Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel, 2010
|To Green Angel Tower||Tad Williams||DAW Books||1,083
|1||520,000||English||Word counts obtained from Amazon digitization (eBook) word count.|
|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|
|The Neapolitan Novels||Elena Ferrante||Europa Editions (2018)||1,696||4||8.1 inches (20.6 cm) x 5.9 inches (15.0 cm)||English Translation from Italian||The author published this novel in four installments due to its length but acknowledges it as a single novel.|
|Chłopi (The Peasants)||Władysław Reymont||Naklad Gebethnera i Wolffa /Alfred A. Knopf||1156 (English translation by Michael Henry Dziewicki)||4||English Translation from Polish||The author received the 1924 Nobel Prize in Literature for this novel.|
|My Struggle (Min Kamp)||Karl Ove Knausgård||Farrar, Straus, and Giroux||3,992 (English translation by Don Barlett and Martin Aitken)||6||1000000||English Translation from Norwegian|
|Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften (The Man Without Qualities)||Robert Musil||Alfred A. Knopf||1774 (English translation by Sophie Wilkins and Burton Pike)||2||English Translation from German|
|Musashi||Eiji Yoshikawa||Pocket Books||1632 (Unabridged English translation by Charles Sanford Terry)||5||English Translation from Japanese||There is an abridged single volume edition that is 984 pages long in hardback edition.|
|Shōgun||James Clavell||Hodder & Stoughton||1,152
|1||7.72 inches (19.6 cm) x 5.04 inches (12.8 cm)||English||The first book in The Asian Saga chronologically.|
|Gai-Jin||James Clavell||Delacorte Press||1,126
|1||8.5 inches (21.6 cm) x 5.75 inches (14.6 cm)||487,000||English||The third book in The Asian Saga chronologically|
|Noble House||James Clavell||Delacorte Press||1,171
|1||8.5 inches (21.6 cm) x 5.75 inches (14.6 cm)||English||The fifth book in The Asian Saga chronologically|
|Whirlwind||James Clavell||William Morrow||1,147
|1||8.5 inches (21.6 cm) x 5.5 inches (14.0 cm)||English||The sixth book in The Asian Saga chronologically. It is abridged with some additional details as Escape: The Love Story from Whirlwind|
|The Mohicans of Paris'||Alexandre Dumas||Gallimard (Collection Quarto edition, 1998)||2,650||2||French|
|The Vicomte de Bragelonne||Alexandre Dumas||4||626,000||French||The final part of The d'Artagnan Romances trilogy|
|Mission Earth||L. Ron Hubbard||Bridge Publications||3,992||10||1200000||English||The novel was promoted as a "dekalogy" by the publisher.|
|The Mysteries of Paris||Eugène Sue||Penguin Classics
|1,392||1||21.34 centimetres (8.4 in) x 13.72 centimetres (5.4 in)||English translation from French||This highly popular novel was published serially in ournal des débats.|
Other list (non-Latin and Cyrillic)Edit
- Avakasikal by Vilasini: This book in Malayalam is known as the second longest written in an Indian language. It contains 3,958 pages in four volumes and took 10 years to complete.
- Nansō Satomi Hakkenden (shinjitai: 南総里見八犬伝; kyūjitai: 南總里見八犬傳) (The 8 Dog Warriors) written by Takizawa Bakin is a very popular epic historical fantasy and romance novel of the Yomihon category in 106 volumes. It was written and published over a period of nearly twenty-eight years (1814–42) and it is the longest novel in the world currently.
- 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 after Nansō Satomi Hakkenden and also one of the longest ever written.
- Daibosatsu Toge by Nakazato Kaizan: Published in 41 volumes and 1533 chapters, this historical novel includes 5.7 million Japanese characters.
- Qin Empire by Sun Haohui: Published in 6 volumes, this historical novel includes 5 million Chinese characters.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Swordspeople from Shu Mountains by Huanzhulouzhu: Published in 309 chapters, although unfinished, this Wuxia novel includes 4.1 million Chinese characters.
- 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 (1,211,000 characters).
- The Chinese wuxia novelist Huang Yi wrote a number of long novels, of which the longest is The Legend of the Twin Dragons of the Tang Dynasty (approximately 50,000,000 characters), consisting of 63 volumes (794 chapters) and the revised version is 20 volumes.
- The name of her brother Georges appeared on the title page, and he is sometimes credited as a co-author.
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- 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.
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- Jeyamohan. Maamalar. Amazon.in. ISBN 9788184938203.
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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. Archived from the original on 2017-01-03. Retrieved 2013-12-30.
- "accueil". Artamène ou le Grand Cyrus. Archived from the original on 2005-05-11. Retrieved 2013-12-30.
- Word count of the online edition, using Artamène ou le Grand Cyrus[permanent dead link]
- source: Loads o' Lists: 21 Longest Novels (by word count)
- "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.
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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
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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.
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- "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)
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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.
- 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.
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- Prague Public Library catalogue: F. L. Věk (in five volumes)"Search: Jirásek, Alois F. L. Věk". Retrieved 2014-06-25.
- "14: Teatro". 14: Teatro. 5 August 1964. Retrieved 5 August 2018 – via sbn.it.
- David Foster Wallace. Infinite Jest. Amazon. ISBN 9780316066525.
- Carl Sandburg. Remembrance Rock. Amazon. ISBN 9780156763905.
- author, quoted in Corwin, Norman (1961). The World of Carl Sandburg. Harcourt, Brace & World. p. 8.
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