In this age of Lilliputian literature, whose defining feature is short sentences, it’s heartening to learn about “labyrinthine sentences,” sentences so long that they swell into entire books.
“Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age” (1964), by Bohumil Hrabal has a 117-page-long sentence. “The Gates of Paradise” (1960), by the Polish novelist Jerzy Andrzejewski has two sentences; one, a 158-page run-on; another, only five words long. Molly Bloom’s monologue from “Ulysses” (1922) is 36 pages wide.
Jonathan Coe’s novel, “The Rotters’ Club” (2001), has a 33-page, single-sentence section. (The BBC has reported that at 13,955 words, it’s the longest sentence ever written in English.) But it has nothing on Mathias Énard’s “Zone” (2008), whose recently published English translation, has a 517-page-long sentence.