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Great opening lines in literature

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by Beaker, Oct 14, 2008.

  1. Beaker

    Beaker Active Member

    I was going through some old class material the other day, and this question lodged in my mind. What are some of the greatest opening sentences/graphs in literature?

    A few of my nominees:

    "It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen." --Orwell, 1984

    "Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything truly wrong, he was arrested." —Franz Kafka, The Trial

    "Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins." --Nabokov, Lolita

    And as much as it may pain me:

    "Call me Ishmael." --Melville, Moby Dick

    What am I missing?
  2. Tommy_Dreamer

    Tommy_Dreamer Well-Known Member

    It was the best of times, it was the worst of times - Tale of Two Cities (and some really shitty prep football lead somewhere this past weekend probably)
  3. Beaker

    Beaker Active Member

    I figured that would be the first one brought up, which is sort of why I left it off my list...
  4. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    I wouldn't call it literature, but Hunter S. Thompson's line deserves to be on this thread:

    "We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold."

    The first line of "No Country for Old Man":

    "I sent one boy to the gaschamber at Huntsville."
  5. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    Got to give a shoutout to a great multicultural literature class I took in college with this one, from Gabriel Garcia Marquez's "One Hundred Years of Solitude":

    "Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."
  6. Beaker

    Beaker Active Member

    Great choices, buck. Almost anything by McCarthy could be on here...
  7. Beaker

    Beaker Active Member

    From Slaughterhouse Five:

    "All this happened, more or less."
  8. BigSleeper

    BigSleeper Active Member

    "Look. Here's the thing. If you can't spot the sucker in your first five minutes at the table, then you are the sucker."

    Oh, wait. You said literature. Sorry. ;D
  9. KG

    KG Active Member

    He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish. -- Hemingway--The Old Man and the Sea
  10. BigSleeper

    BigSleeper Active Member


    It was the best of times, it was the BLURST of times!? You stupid monkey!
  11. Tommy_Dreamer

    Tommy_Dreamer Well-Known Member

    Never read it but here's one I found that struck me as very cool

    The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel - William Gibson, Neuromancer
  12. Beaker

    Beaker Active Member

    Not as memorable, but you've got to also love the simplicity of his opening to A Farewell to Arms:

    "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."
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