Thursday, October 16, 2008

Favourite First Lines

Here is a short list of my favourite first lines from some classic novels. (And yes, I've read them and personally selected them, rather than just copied a few from some list I googled.) Can you name the references?

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

This line is a favourite not just because it is from one of the best books ever written, but I found it so applicable to my own life when I was single, in search of a husband, and thinking "Doesn't anyone get it? I'm the total package here! Are all men blind?"

2. All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

I like this line because it is so true. There is one way that leads to happiness, but many diverse ways to unhappiness. It reminds me of King Benjamin teaching his people in Mosiah 4:29 "And finally, I cannot tell you all the things whereby ye may commit sin; for there are divers ways and means, even so many that I cannot number them." How cheerful. Now that may be a discouraging thought, but as I contemplate the one right way to happiness, I feel peace in the simplicity of the course I should follow.

3. There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.

I love taking long walks. My favourite time of year to take walks is in Autumn when there are leaves on the ground that I can crunch beneath my feet. It is so satisfying. After that would probably rank summer nights, after dark, when it's still warm. It's so peaceful and restful and solitary. Delightful. I dislike the winter because it's too cold to walk outside comfortably for any length of time, and I miss my meanderings.

4. Under certain circumstances there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.

I love the concept of afternoon tea. I unfortunately come from a time and place that doesn't participate in that custom. I occasionally have little tea parties just for myself. When I was a girl I would have tea parties where I would serve water and cinnamon toast cut into strips. Cinnamon toast may be delicious, but it is a bit prosaic. However, if you cut it into long strips it becomes a delicacy proper to afternoon tea served by a seven year old girl.

5. In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since.

This is an excellent quote as it makes me think of my own father and his inestimable wisdom. He taught me many things in my youth, and continues to. If I'm ever in need of advice, he is the one to whom I turn. He is the one that taught me how to find solutions, how to look objectively at a problem, how to think through all factors of an equation.

The next line of the quote is just as excellent: "Whenever you feel like criticizing any one," he told me, "just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had."

One of my many advantages in life is having the father that I do.

6. It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

This line is great just because it's so evocative. It paints a vivid picture that I quite like.

That's my list for now. I can personally recommend every book it references. If you don't know them, feel free to ask or make use of your favourite search engine.

Anyone have any other lines they'd like to add?


Jennifer and Nathan said...

1. Pride and Prejudice. I'm completely guessing. It's got a Jane Austen vibe to it.
2. Anna Karenina. I remember this one from Sue Egan's class. The sub practically read a whole chapter to us!
3. Jane Eyre
4. Don't know but the image of you having afternoon tea with water and strips of cinnamon toast is precious!
5. The Great Gatsby. Love this book.
6. absolutely no idea

As for adding another, the only one that comes to mind is "Marley was dead; to begin with." Then I remember an awful lot of reflection about the death of a doornail.
This was fun...and made me realize how impressionable first lines can be.

Maren said...

"The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning." - Casino Royale

That's Brent's contribution. :)