List of longest novels  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

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. 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 Cyrillic alphabets include:

Madeleine and Georges de Scudéry, Artamène

Published in ten volumes from 164953. The two-author work contains 2.1 million words.Template:Fact Available online (in French only) at

Marcel Proust, À la recherche du temps perdu

Longest conventionally-read novel. 9,609,000 characters, 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. 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

Published 1952. 1731 pages, originally published in two volumes.

Samuel Richardson, Clarissa

Published 1748. First edition contains about 969,000 words. Third edition contains some 5,500,000 characters, over one million words. 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.

Marguerite Young, Miss MacIntosh, My Darling

Published 1965. Contains "700,000 words on 1,198 closely printed pages".

Alexandre Dumas, père, Le Vicomte de Bragelonne, ou Dix ans plus tard

Written in 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.

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

Published 1957. Approximately 645,000 words. 1168 pages.

Vikram Seth, A Suitable Boy

Published 1993. 1488 pages softcover. 591,552 words. The longest conventional novel in English since Clarissa, and officiallyTemplate:Fact 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.

Carl Sandburg, Remembrance Rock

Published 1948. 532,030 words.

Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

Published 1862. Nearly 513,000 French words. Unabridged French edition (ISBN 2070102645) 1779 pages (including essays).

Self-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 and

Nigel Tomm, The Blah Story

Self published. The first volume of The Blah Story was published in 2007 by 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.

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.

Novel cycles

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.

Book Title Author # of Words Language Volumes
1 Marienbad My Love Mark Leach 17 million English
2 The Blah Story Nigel Tomm 11.3 million English 23
3 The Story of the Vivian Girls Henry Darger 9 million English
4 Artamene Madeleine and Georges de Scudéry 2.1 million French 10
5 À la recherche du temps perdu Marcel Proust 1.5 million French 7
6 Mission Earth L. Ron Hubbard 1.2 million English 10
7 Sironia, Texas Madison Cooper 1.1 million English 2
8 A Dance to the Music of Time Anthony Powell more than 1 million English 12
9 Clarissa Samuel Richardson 969,000 English 9
10 Poor Fellow My Country Xavier Herbert 850,000 English
11 Miss MacIntosh, My Darling Marguerite Young 700,000 English
12 Atlas Shrugged Ayn Rand 645,000 English
13 Le Vicomte de Bragelonne, ou Dix ans plus tard Alexandre Dumas, père 626,000 French
14 A Suitable Boy Vikram Seth 591,552 English
15 War and Peace Leo Tolstoy 460,000 / 560,000 Russian & French / English
16 Remembrance Rock Carl Sandburg 532,030 English
17 Les Misérables Victor Hugo 513,000 French
* Gordana Marija Jurić Zagorka 5600 pages Croatian 8-12
* The Man Without Qualities Robert Musil 1700 pages German

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 (novel)|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.

Li Guiyu: Dream of the Pomegranate Flowers

Completed 1841. 4,838,400 Chinese characters. 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.

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.

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. The incomplete English translation at Project Gutenberg contains 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.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "List of longest novels" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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