Friday, April 26, 2013

Some Literary First sentences, just for fun. . .

On the day after the HarperCons finally made their utter hypocrisy TOTALLY clear by voting down a motion to ensure that MPs are able to speak freely in the House, I thought I would say to hell with all that crap and post something a little different.

So here are a few literary first sentences from great books. See how many you recognize before you cheat with google. The easiest ones come first and they get a little harder as they go on. I leave little hints after each sentence.

- "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a great fortune, must be in want of a wife." (This sentence is often considered by literary theorists to be intended ironically, though I am by no means convinced.)

- "Call me Ishmael." (A simple beginning to a very complex work.)

- "To the red country and part of the gray country of Oklahoma, the last rains came gently, and they did not cut the scarred earth." (This book is undervalued in my opinion.)

- "Well, Prince, so Genoa and Lucca are now just family estates of the Buonapartes." (This should be easy.)

- "If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth." (Do you catch his drift?)

- "For a long time I used to go to bed early." (A short beginning to a very long work.)

- "I was ever of the opinion, that the honest man who married and brought up a large family, did more service than he who continued single, and only talked of population," (A complex beginning to a simple work.)

-"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." (Predictably non-committal)

- "The wealth of those societies in which the capitalist mode of production prevails, presents itself as 'an immense accumulation of commodities,' its unit being a single commodity." (Intense scholarship.)

- "I want a hero: and uncommon want. . " (You have to love this.)

- "What is a poet?" (Very good question, or is it?)

- "Philosophy, which once seemed obsolet, lives on because the moment to realize it was missed." (My favorite opening to a book that I don't - and almost no one else - understands.)

- "If it be true, and it can scarcely be disputed, that nothing has been for centuries consecrated by public admiration, without possessing in a high degree some kind of sterling excellence, it is not because the average intellect and feeling of the majority of the public are competent in any way to distinguish what is really excellent, but because all erroneous opinion is inconsistent, and all ungrounded opinion transitory; so that, while the fancies and feeling which deny deserved honour and award that is undue have neither root nor strength sufficient to maintain consisten testimony for a length of time, the opinions formed on right grounds by those few who are in reality competent judges, being necessarily stable, comunicate themselves gradually from mind to mind, descending lower as they extend wider, until they leaven the whole lump, and rule bey absolute authority, even where the grounds and reasons for them cannot be understood." (Whew! Now how did a book that started like that become one of the most influential books of art criticism?)

- "A screaming came across the sky." (And you'll probably scream if you try to read the whole book.)

- "I am seated in an office, surrounded by heads and bodies." (That's not funny.)

- "There was once a town in the heart of America where all life seemed to live in harmony with its surrounding." (I guess it kept quiet about it.)


Anonymous said...

"It was a dark and stormy night."

Anonymous said...

"A screaming came across the sky."


kirbycairo said...


Owen Gray said...

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."

kirbycairo said...

That's a good one Owen but I thought it might be too easy.