Saturday, February 6, 2010

Salute to Classic Opening Lines

How often have you been blown away by a novel’s opening line? Unfortunately, this occurrence is all too rare, but when it happens it is like fireworks on the Fourth of July. The opening line of Her Fearful Symmetry refreshed my memory of what a wonderful treat a stellar opening line is.

This caused me to ponder about other great starting sentences. Fortunately, thanks google, I don’t have to wonder anymore. The folks over at American Book Review of listed the 100 Best Lines from Novels. I recognized several old favorites including:

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” —Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (1813) (#2);

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” —Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina (1877; trans. Constance Garnett) (6) and

“I am an invisible man.”—Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (1952) (10).

And the all time best opening line ever? Call me Ishmael. —Herman Melville, Moby-Dick (1851).

Check out the complete list by American Book Review when you have time. And feel free to name a few of your favorite opening lines (both included on the list and not on the list) in the comments.

And to all 100 literary icons who penned great openers I salute you!

1 comment:

  1. What a cool list! I was sad not to see my favorite though. From Ahab's Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund: "Captain Ahab was neither my first husband nor my last." I've remembered that for more than 10 years, and the minute I read it I was sucked in, with no coming up till I was done.