With the advent of self-publishing and eBooks the World’s Longest Book has become something barely worth contemplating. Especially in light of books such as Nigel Tomm’s The Blah Story weighing in at more than 11,000,000 words. Unfortunately it is over 11,000,000 repetitions of “blah blah blah blah blah… “
There is also the case of Henry Darger, an artist who gained posthumous fame when his 9,000,000 word manuscript was found. Darger’s fantasy novel, 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, is not published.
Mark Leach’s self-published eBook Marienbad My Love of 17,000,000 words certainly takes the cake in word count, but it’s disputed as a true novel. It’s classified as an experimental word collage using a cut-up, non-linear literary technique. The story’s interesting premise aside, Leach attempted to break several literature records in this single feat.
Marienbad My Love is a publisher’s worst nightmare; just imagine the query letter:
“Dear Editor, Please find enclosed my 17,000,000 word experimental novel. Its non-linear story tells of a journalist turned filmmaker who brings upon Armageddon by producing a science fiction version of the French film “Last Year at Marienbad”. Its inclusion of the longest made-up word in the English language at over 4,000,000 letters and a run on sentence of 3,000,000 words is rather impressive…”
The Blah Story , The Story of the Vivian Girls and Marienbad My Love, while having excessive word counts, are not recognized record breakers.
Novels in Series, Cycles or Volumes
There are numerous fiction series published over years with high word counts as a continuous story. The Pakistani fantasy series Devta and the German science fiction series Perry Rhodan have been publishing continuously for over 30 years. They are not self-contained novels and so far French authors have held the record for the longest novels ever published.
The French Write Long Novels
Madeleine and Georges de Scudery wrote the novel Artamene (Cyrus the Great) of over 2,100,000 words. Artamene is often considered the longest novel in the world, but was published in 10 volumes and is not recognized by Guinness. As far as Guinness is concerned Marcel Proust’s novel A la recherché du temps perdu (Remembrance of Things Past) is the world’s longest novel at nearly 1,500,000 words.
This ignores Jules Romains’s novel, les Hommes de Bonne Volonte, with over 2,000,000 words, but published in cycles. The longest American or English language novel ever published so far is L. Ron Hubbard’s 10 volume work, Mission Earth.
Non-fiction Books and World Languages
Non-fiction books are nearly impossible to categorize for the Longest Book Record, especially with Encyclopedias. Also consider books published outside of Latin languages, such as Middle Eastern or Asian languages. In considering nonfiction and all world languages, the record often goes to The Yongle Dadian,a Chinese encyclopedia published in 10,000 volumes 500 years ago.