10 Longest Pieces of Literature 

While plenty of people love to curl up with a good book, most readers tend to stick with novels of a manageable length. But some people feel that longer is better and prefer to read more involved books that they can really get lost in!

So, just how many words make up the longest pieces of literature that you can read today? Let’s take a look at 10 of the longest pieces of literature that you can read and rank them according to word count. We’ll also learn some interesting things about each one!

  1. Kelidar

Length: 950,000 words
Author: Mahmoud Dowlatabadi
Year Published: 1984
Original Language: Persian

Source: wikimedia.org

The novel Kelidar is so long that it had to be divided into 10 books! The story is set in Iran from 1946 to 1949 and clearly depicts the local tensions that lingered following World War II. The protagonist’s Kurdish family experiences difficulties in coexisting peacefully alongside their neighbors.

Did you know? 

Author Mahmoud Dowlatabadi grew up in a less-than-wealthy family of shoemakers in the Iranian village of Dowlatabad and worked as a farmhand, later applying his own experience to his writing.

  1. A Dance to the Music of Time

Length: 1 million words
Author: Anthony Powell
Year Published: between 1951 and 1975
Original Language: English

A_dance_to_the_music_of_time  Source: wikimedia.org

The piece A Dance to the Music of Time is a cycle of novels which is divided into 12 volumes in order to accommodate the full story. The literary work was inspired by Nicolas Poussin’s painting that bore the same title and explores English customs and mannerisms in the middle of the 20th century. The dance patterns shown in the painting are said to have struck Anthony Powell as a metaphor for social interactions.

Did you know? 

While A Dance to the Music of Time explores social behaviors, it seeks to do so objectively from an outsider’s viewpoint.

  1. Zettels Traum

Length: 1.1 million words (estimated)
Author: Arno Schmidt
Year Published: 1970
Original Language: German

Source: wikimedia.org

Zettels Traum, which translates to “Bottom’s Dream” in English, was first begun alongside Arno Schmidt’s cooperative efforts with Hans Wollschläger to translate Edgar Allan Poe’s works into German. Zettels Traum was partially inspired by the works of James Joyce, and aimed to depict the different forms of knowledge in his story.

Did you know? 

Arno Schmidt is also known for his story Kühe in Halbtrauer, and is said to be one of the most important German authors of the 20th century.

  1. Sironia, Texas 

Length: 1.1 million words
Author: Madison Cooper
Year Published: 1952
Original Language: English

Sironia_Texas  Source: wikimedia.org

This story by Madison Cooper is set in the fictional town of Sironia, Texas, which many people believe is a very similar fictional version of Waco, Texas, where the author grew up. The novel follows the story of protagonist Tam Lipscomb from early childhood and details the struggles and social difficulties of the town’s citizens.

Did you know? 

Sironia, Texas took 11 years to write and became a New York Times bestseller alongside winning the Houghton Mifflin Literary Award.

  1. Gordana 

Length: 1.4 million words (estimated)
Author: Marija Juric Zagorka
Year Published: 2007
Original Language: Croatian

Source: wikimedia.org

Marija Juric Zagorka is a notable figure for several reasons: Not only was she an outspoken women’s rights activist, but she was the first female journalist in Croatia as well. She is also one of the most frequently-read Croation authors, and Gordana is her longest work. Gordana, the protagonist, is a powerful fictional heroine who demonstrates strong national pride.

Did you know? 

Other words by Marija Zagorka include Daughter of the Lotrščak, Republikanci, and The Knight of the Slavonian Plain.

  1. A la recherche du temps perdu 

Length: 1.5 million words
Author: Marcel Proust
Year Published: 1913
Original Language: French

A_la_recherche_du_temps_perdu  Source: wikimedia.org

When translated from French to English, the title of this piece of literature becomes “In Search of Lost Time” or “Remembrance of Things Past.” The novel is divided into seven parts and tells the story of the author’s life. The autobiographical nature of the piece is meant to serve as an allegory of the search for truth.

Did you know? 

A key, central theme in this novel is the concept of involuntary memory, in which everyday cues spark the memory of a past experience without any deliberate effort.

  1. Artamène ou le Grand Cyrus 

Length: 2.1 million words
Author: Madeleine de Scudéry
Year Published: 1649
Original Language: French

Source: wikimedia.org

The title of this lengthy piece translates to “Artamène, or Cyrus the Great” in English. This novel sequence is said to be one of the longest pieces of literature ever published, and the longest novel in all of French Literature. Artamène also sources other classic pieces such as the works of great historians and philosophers Herodotus and Xenophon.

Did you know? 

While Madeleine de Scudéry is said to be the true author of this novel, the title pages cite her older brother, Georges de Scudéry.

  1. Marienbad My Love 

Length: 2.5 million words
Author: Mark Leach
Year Published: 2013
Original Language: English

Source: marienbadmylove.com

Marienbad My Love is, like many extremely long works, divided into several books of a more manageable length. The overall piece opens with a journalist and filmmaker who is exiled on a remote, deserted island and believes that he must convince a woman from his past to help him with an artistic project that will help him carry out the will of God.

Did you know? 

Mark Leach is said to have added a fair bit of bulk to this piece by lifting long quotes from other books–but, to be fair, many of those other books were also his!

  1. The Blah Story 

Length: 3,277,227 words
Author: Nigel Tomm
Year Published: 2007
Original Language: English

Source: theblahstory.wordpress.com

Despite its name, The Blah Story isn’t really a story at all! This piece of literature is more of a written piece of abstract art, made to challenge the usual conventions and expectations of what a book should be. The Blah Story also knocks out a series of other notable feats, such as including the world’s longest made-up word in print, the longest sentence, and the world’s longest poem.

Did you know? 

This abstract novel does contain monologues, dialogue, characters, and storylines, but these are very loosely defined in the spirit of keeping things open for interpretation.

  1. Subspace Emissary’s Worlds Conquest

Length: 4,102,217 words
Author: Christian / AuraChannelerChris
Year Published: N/A – first posted online in 2008
Original Language: English

Subspace_Emissarys_Worlds_Conquest  Source: wikipedia.org

Subspace Emissary’s Worlds Conquest is the longest piece of literature that you can read according in terms of word count. It may not be a traditionally-published book, but no one can deny the impressive feat that author Christian has undertaken with this massive fanfiction! What’s more is that readers say it’s actually written well and provides a good balance of action, humor, and moral messages.

Did you know? 

Rumor has is that Christian, who originally hails from Mexico, started writing this piece of fanfiction as a way of practicing his English.

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