Friday, February 03, 2006

Memorable Opening Lines

Julie D., over at Happy Catholic, started this. Here's my contribution:

In the Beginning was the Word
And the Word was with God,
And the Word was God.

--John 1:1

In 1938, near the end of a decade of monumental turmoil, the year's number-one newsmaker was not Frankline Delano Roosevelt, Hitler, or Mussolini. It wasn't Pope Pius XI, nor was it Lou Gehrig, Howard Hughes, or Clark Gable. The subject of the most newspaper column inchines in 1938 wan't even a person. It was an undersized, crooked-legged racehorse named Seabiscuit.

--opening paragraph, Seabiscuit, An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand

Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

--Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
(I think it's interesting that this sentence is very similar in style to Jane Austen's opening line in Pride & Prejudice? "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." This is also a great opening line, but it was mentioned on Julie's site already!)

Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, `and what is the use of a book,' thought Alice `without pictures or conversation?'

--Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

All children, except one, grow up.

--Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie

It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.

--Paul Clifford, by Edward Bulwer-Lytton

(Okay--this last one was tongue-in-cheek. However, San Jose (California) State University sponsors a Bulwer-Lytton Contest for the "best" worst first line. And, thanks to Snoopy, it is memorable!)