Monday, February 20, 2017

First Lines in Novels

By Allyson Reyna
Authors know that the most important line in any book is the first line. This either captivates the readers and draws them into the story that is being told, or it detours them away. Respectively speaking, authors want the first of these scenarios to occur. As you read these, pay close attention, observe, and listen to the words that the author is trying hard to project to its audience. Many times it is a much more mystifying sentence than meets the skimming eye.

***As I was researching first lines in literature, I just compiled a list of them that stuck out to me. This being said, read these novels within your own discretion. Most of these, I haven’t even read and probably will never read.

·         I am an Invisible Man. – Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (1952)

·         It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. – George Orwell, 1984 (1949)

·         All children, except one, grow up. – J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan (1911)

·         In a sense, I am Jacob Homer. – John Barth, The End of the Road (1958)

·         It was like so, but wasn’t. – Richard Powers, Galatea 2.2 (1995)

·         All this happened, more or less. – Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five (1969)

·         For a long time, I went to bed early. – Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way (1913; trans. Lydia Davis)

·         The moment one learns English, complications set in. – Felipe Alfau, Chromos (1990)

·         Dr. Weiss, at forty, knew that her life had been ruined by literature. – Anita Brookner, The Debut (1981)

·         It was the day my grandmother exploded. – Iain M. Banks, The Crow Road (1992)

·         A story has no beginning or end; arbitrarily one chooses that moment of existence from which to look back or from which to look ahead. – Graham Greene, The End of the Affair ( 1951)

·         I write this sitting in the kitchen sink. – Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle ( 1948)

·         He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad. – Raphael Sabatini, Scaramouche (1921)

·         I had the story, bit by bit, from various people, and, as generally happens in such cases, each time it was a different story. —Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome (1911)

·         The time has come. – Dr. Seuss, Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now! (1972)      

·         All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. – Leo Tolskoy, Anna Karenina (1877)                     

·         Don’t look for dignity in public bathrooms. – Victor LaValle, Big Machine (2009)

·         See the child. – Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian (1985)

·         You don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, but that ain’t no matter. – Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884)                                                                                                                                                      

And my personal favorite (which is also deemed as the most well-known first line in literature) is…

·         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. – Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (1859)

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