Tuesday Turnip

David K. Israel

It's time for another Tuesday Turnip wherein I type a random phrase and we see what kind of interesting factoids "turn-up."

Today I typed in "longest book ever written" unearthing the following from a few different sites:

  • Henry Darger: The Story of the Vivian Girls. 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. [1] The most conservative guess will put this in the million-word realm, possibly into tens of millions.
  • 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.
  • 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, can claim over 150 million words in over 2300 parts.
  • The longest book ever written - Yongle Dadian- During the Ming Dynasty at least 3,000 scholars spent 4 years, beginning in 1403, to work on the Yongle Dadian, an encyclopedia with 11,095 volumes and 22,877 chapters. There are an estimated 370 million Chinese characters used.

Some other, well-known books that made Wiki's list:

  • Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged 565,223 words.[14] 1274 pages.
  • Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace 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 532,030 words.
  • Victor Hugo, Les Misérables Nearly 513,000 French words.

And as a side note, something tangentially interesting that turned up in this week's search: Mark Twain was the first writer ever to submit a typewritten manuscript to a publisher. The name of the book: Tom Sawyer.