The world is full of readers-avid readers. Fiction, non-fiction, children’s books, books with adult themes, books for young adults-there are countless varieties to choose from. English, is supposedly, the most popular language in terms of novel productions these days. But did you know that the world’s longest novel is a product of French language.
In Search of Lost Time (French: À la recherche du temps perdu) — or Remembrance of Things Past — is a novel in seven volumes by Marcel Proust (1871–1922). His most prominent work, it is known both for its length and its theme of involuntary memory, the most famous example being the “episode of the madeleine.” It gained fame in English in translations by C. K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin as Remembrance of Things Past, but the title In Search of Lost Time, a literal rendering of the French, has gained usage since D. J. Enright adopted it for his revised translation published in 1992.
The novel began to take shape in 1909. Proust continued to work on it until his final illness in the autumn of 1922 forced him to break off. Proust established the structure early on, but even after volumes were initially finished he kept adding new material, and edited one volume after another for publication. The last three of the seven volumes contain oversights and fragmentary or unpolished passages as they existed in draft form at the death of the author; the publication of these parts was overseen by his brother Robert.
It contains a whopping 4,211 pages spread over 7 volumes with a monstrous word count of about 1,200,000 words, effectively making it the world’s longest novel. Phew !