The 17th century novel, Artamène ou le Grand Cyrus, has a 2.1 million word count across its ten volumes. The entire work was published in French during the period 1649-1653. The title pages credit the work to novelist, dramatist and poet, Georges de Scudéry, but his sister, Madeleine, usually shares the credit. As the ultimate example of the Roman-fleuve genre, it is a romantic novel, with endless twists to keep the suspense, and the action, going. Despite its gargantuan length, at the time it was hugely popular.

There are over 400 characters, as well as 100 settings, which makes it difficult to trace the narrative. In fact, much of the narrative plot is broken up by stories of “histories” of characters, events, relationships, and mythologies told by a variety of different characters throughout the romance, which encourages a “non-linear” approach to reading the story.

Men of Good Will, the epic novel cycle by Jules Romains, has a 2,070,000 word count across its 27 volumes. The work was published in French as Les Hommes de bonne volonté between 1932 and 1946 and attempts to re-create the spirit of a whole era of French society from Oct. 6, 1908, to Oct. 7, 1933. There is no central figure or family to provide a focus for the narrative, and like Artamène ou le Grand Cyrus, the work is populated by a huge cast of characters.

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