It is said that no part of a book is as important as its beginning, that the reader even if they persist from disappointment can be lost to the author in heart and soul if not in mind. Here are the opening lines from a number of classic books – see what you think?
Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice, 1813.
It is in truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
Mary Shelley: Frankenstein, 1818
You will rejoice to hear that no disaster has accompanied the commencement of an enterprise which you have regarded with such evil forebodings.
Mikhail Lermontov: A Hero of Our Time, 1840.
All the luggage I had in my cart consisted of one small portmanteau half-filled with travelling notes on Georgia, of these the greater part has been lost, fortunately for you, but the portmanteau itself and the rest of its contents have remained intact, fortunately for me.
Emily Bronte: Wuthering Heights, 1847
I have just returned from a visit to my landlord – the solitary neighbour that I shall be troubled with.
Charlotte Bronte: Jane Eyre, 1847.
There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.
Charles Dickens: A Tale of Two Cities, 1859.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.
Fyodor Dostoevsky: Notes from the Underground, 1864
I am a sick man, I am an angry man – there is something wrong with my liver.
George Eliot: Middlemarch, 1871.
Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress.
Leo Tolstoy: Anna Karenina, 1877
All happy families are alike, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
Robert Louis Stevenson: Treasure Island, 1883.
Dr Livesey, and the rest of these gentlemen having asked me to write down the whole particulars about Treasure Island, from the beginning to the end, keeping nothing back but the bearings of the island, and that only because there is still treasure not yet lifted. I take up my pen in the year of grace 17_and go back to the time when my father kept the Admiral Benbow Inn as the brown old seaman with the sabre cut first took up lodging under our roof.
Stephen Crane: The Red Badge of Courage, 1895.
The cold passed reluctantly from the earth, and the retiring fogs revealed an army stretched out on the hills, resting.
J.M Barrie: Peter Pan, 1911
All children, except one, grow up.
Franz Kafka: Metamorphosis, 1916.
As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.
Raphael Sabatini: Scaramouche, 1921.
He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad.
Virginia Woolf: Orlando, 1928.
He – for there could be no doubt of his sex, though the fashion of the time did something to disguise it – was in the act of slicing the head of a Moor that swung from the rafters.
Robert Graves: I, Claudius, 1934.
I, Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus this-that-and-the-other (for I shall not trouble you yet with all my titles) who was once, and not so long ago either known to my friends, family and associates as ‘Claudius the Idiot’, ‘That Claudius’, ‘Claudius the Stammerer’, ‘Clau-Clau Claudius’, or at best as ‘Poor Uncle Claudius’, am now about to write this strange history of my life;
George Orwell: Nineteen Eighty Four, 1949.
It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.
L P Hartley: The Go-Between, 1963
The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.