The following block of text contains twenty-four famous first lines from novels. Or, more precisely, first lines from famous (and semi-famous) novels, novels that I've read in the past decade.
Most of you have some idea of what I like to read. I've simply scanned my fiction section, have pulled down some of my favorites, and have reproduced their opening lines below. Some are well-known. Others are relatively obscure. How many of them can you name? (Please google only as a last resort.)
Too difficult? If so, what are some of your favorite first lines?
- This is not a conventional cookbook.
- I have never begun a novel with more misgiving.
- Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
- My father and mother should have stayed in New York where they met and married and I was born.
- Call me Ishmael.
- Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.
- In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since.
- The idea of eternal return is a mysterious one, and Nietzsche has often perplexed other philosophers with it: to think that everything recurs as we once experienced it, and that the recurrence itself recurs ad infinitum!
- It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.
- She stands up in the garden where she has been working and looks into the distance.
- Jewel and I came up from the field, following the path in single file.
- It seems increasingly likely that I really will undertake the expedition that has been preoccupying my imagination for some days.
- The British are frequently criticized by other nations for their dislike of change, and indeed we love England for those aspects of nature and life which change the least.
- In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains.
- Except for the Marabar Caves — and they are twenty miles off — the city of Chandrapore presents nothing extraordinary.
- The schoolmaster was leaving the village, and everybody seemed sorry.
- The primroses were over.
- The music-room in the Governor's House at Port Mahon, a tall, handsome, pillared octagon, was filled with the triumphant first movement of Locatelli's C-major quartet.
- For a long time I used to go to be early.
- Last night I dreamt I went to Manderlay again.
- At the first gesture of morning, flies began stirring.
- Tyler gets me a job as a waiter, after that Tyler's pushing a gun in my mouth and saying, the first step to eternal life is you have to die.
- You will rejoice to hear that no disaster has accompanied the commencement of an enterprise which you have regarded with such evil forebodings.
- "Sleep well, dear."
Maybe in the future I'll do this with my science fiction and fantasy novels. Somehow, I suspect their first lines are more revealing: "When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced�" — difficult, that.
On 12 July 2003 (12:37 PM), J.D. said:
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On 02 April 2005 (03:46 PM), Jess said:
On 02 April 2005 (03:46 PM), Jess said:
On this day at foldedspace.org
2006 — My First Book In which I remember the first books I ever read.
2005 — Bathroom Remodel: During In which we're one week (out of three) into our bathroom remodel. (Ha! Little did I know at the time that this project would s-t-r-e-t-c-h on for months!)
2004 — Photo Gallery: Remodeling In which I describe (with the help of photographs) all of the remodeling we've done since moving into the new house.
2002 — WinHell In which I hate working with computers.
2001 — Daily Life In which I enjoy a summer of biking, reading, and killing demonic hordes.