::Literate Blather::
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Great Openings

The First Sentences of 12 Classics of Literature

Oliver Twist

By Charles Dickens

“Among other public buildings in a certain town, which for many reasons it will be
prudent to refrain from mentioning, and to which I will assign no fictitious name,
there is one anciently common to most towns, great or small: to wit, a
workhouse; and in this workhouse was born; on a day and date which I need not
trouble myself to repeat, inasmuch as it can be of no possible consequence to
the reader, in this stage of the business at all events; the item of mortality
whose name is prefixed to the head of this chapter.”

Pride and Prejudice

By Jane Austen

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

By Mark Twain

“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.”

Jane Eyre

By Charlotte Bronte

“There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.”

For Whom the Bell Tolls

By Ernest Hemingway

“He lay on the brown, pine-needled floor of the forest, his chin on his folded arms, and the high overhead the wind blew in the tops of the pine trees.”

The Scarlett Letter

By Nathaniel Hawthorne

“A throng of bearded men, in sad-colored garments and grey steeple-crowned
hats, inter-mixed with women, some wearing hoods, and others bareheaded,
was assembled in front of a wooden edifice, the door of which was heavily
timbered with oak, and studded with iron spikes.”

Portrait of a Lady
By Henry James
“Under certain circumstances there are few hours in life more agreeable than
the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea."

Ethan Frome
By Edith Wharton
“I had the story, bit by bit, from various people, and, as generally happens in
such cases, each time it was a different story.”

Heart of Darkness
By Joseph Conrad
“The Nellie, a cruising yawl, swung to her anchor without a flutter of the sails,
and was at rest.”

Of Human Bondage

By W. Somerset Maugham

“The day broke gray and dull.”
Light in August
By William Faulkner
“Sitting beside the road, watching the wagon mount the hill toward her, Lena thinks,
‘I have come from Alabama: a fur piece.’”

I, Claudius

By Robert Graves

“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 and relatives and associates as "Claudius the Idiot", or "That Claudius", or "Claudius the Stammere", or "Clau-Clau-Claudius" or at best as "Poor Uncle Claudius", am now about to write this strange history of my life; starting from my earliest childhood and continuing year by year until I reach the fateful point of change where, some eight years ago, at the age of fifty-one, I suddenly found myself caught in what I may call the "golden predicament" from which I have never since become disentangled.”

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