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Please cite any factual claims with citation links or references from authoritative sources. Editors continuously recheck submissions and claims.

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Which classic novel is famously associated with both a very long sentence and a very short letter?

Question #77439. Asked by gmackematix.
Last updated Sep 16 2016.

Answer has 5 votes
Currently Best Answer
16 year member
303 replies

Answer has 5 votes.

Currently voted the best answer.
Les Miz
"Victor Hugo almost set the world’s record for short letter writing. A month or so after the octavo edition of Les Miserables was published he wrote to his publisher the following:


Victor Hugo "


"Many people attribute the longest sentence in literature to Victor Hugo. The claim is that a sentence in Les Miserables, 823 words long, earns that title.

The source most often given for this, if a source is given, is Timothy Fullerton's Triviata: A Compendium of Useless Information, published in 1975.

Unfortunately, Fullerton was in error. At best, it is the longest sentence in French literature, though I can't confirm that.*"


Response last updated by LadyNym on Sep 16 2016.
Mar 18 2007, 10:39 PM
Answer has 3 votes
20 year member
3324 replies

Answer has 3 votes.
Vive la response! Oui TN.
The infamously long sentence is a rather overblown description of King Louis Philippe, which leaves me, after 823 words, little the wiser as to what the monarch actually looks like:
In the following translation, an exclamation mark in the middle makes its status as one sentence questionable:

Anyway, this sentence does seem to be outdone by an 847 word one in that notorious exercise in unnecessary verbosity, "La Recherche de Temps Perdu" by Marcel Proust.
This was the book that was returned by one publisher who could not understand why anyone needs thirty pages to describe someone turning over before going to sleep. The book was, of course, published with that passage uncut.

Response last updated by LadyNym on Sep 16 2016.
Mar 19 2007, 5:14 PM
Answer has 4 votes
17 year member
2344 replies

Answer has 4 votes.
We should also credit Hugo's publisher for his equally short reply: "!". (And nit-pickers can argue over the use and position of my final period.)

I'd like to know who the individual at the publishing house was. The company was Hurst and Blackett.

Dec 01 2007, 4:58 PM
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