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The best opening lines in literature

 
 
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 07:57 am
@farmerman,
Quote:
My mother, when it was a question of our having M. de Norpois to dinner for the first time, having expressed her regret that Professor Cottard was away from home, and that she herself had quite ceased to see anything of Swann, since either of these might have helped to entertain the old Ambassador, my father replied that so eminent a guest, so distinguished a man of science as Cottard could never be out of place at a dinner-table, but that Swann, with his ostentation, his habit of crying aloud from the housetops the name of everyone that he knew, however slightly, was an impossible vulgarian whom the Marquis de Norpois would be sure to dismiss as"to use his own epithet"a ‘pestilent’ fellow.


Marcel Proust. Within a Budding Grove.
0 Replies
 
wandeljw
 
  2  
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 09:53 am
Quote:
On the morning Vera died I woke up very early. The birds had started, more of them and singing more loudly in our leafy suburb than in the country. They never sang like that outside Vera's windows in the Vale of Dedham. I lay there listening to something repeating itself monotonously. A thrush, it must have been, doing what Browning said it did and singing each song twice over. It was a Thursday in August, a hundred years ago. Not much more than a third of that, of course. It only feels so long.

In these circumstances alone one knows when someone is going to die. All other deaths can be predicted, conjectured, even anticipated with some certainty, but not to the hour, the minute, with no room for hope. Vera would die at eight o' clock and that was that.


The opening lines of "A Dark-Adapted Eye" by Ruth Rendell (writing as Barbara Vine).
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 11:08 am
@wandeljw,
That was a good laugh wande. The lady wrote to me once. I had written to her about some rubbish she had in the paper and she thanked me for my letter and told me about her various medical conditions.
0 Replies
 
Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 11:12 am
Quote:
The human race, to which so many of my readers belong, has been playing at children's games from the beginning, and will probably do it till the end, which is a nuisance for the few people who grow up.
The Napoleon of Notting Hill--G.K. Chesterton
0 Replies
 
Gargamel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 01:08 pm
@spendius,
spendius wrote:

And that's supposed to be a "best opening line in literature" is it?

It's total childish rubbish.


Actually, it is one of the best openings in literature. Therefore, you are wrong.

Now tell us how great Flaubert is.
0 Replies
 
Gargamel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 01:21 pm
I enjoy these opening lines to the short story "The End of FIRPO in the World," by George Saunders:

"The boy on the bike flew by the chink's house, and the squatty-body's house, and the house where the dead guy had rotted for five days, remembering that the chink had once called him nasty, the squatty-body had once called the cops when he'd hit her cat with a lug nut on a string, the chick in the dead guy's house had once asked if he, Cody, ever brushed his teeth. Someday when he'd completed the invention of his special miniaturizing ray he would shrink their houses and flush them down the shitter while in tiny voices all three begged for some sophisticated mercy, but he would only say, Sophisticated? When were you ever sophisticated to me?"
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  2  
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 01:58 pm
@tsarstepan,
tsarstepan wrote:

Quote:
Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-eight million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea


Just curious, where is this from?


Indubitably Hitch Hikers' Guide to the Galaxy.
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 02:00 pm
@Merry Andrew,
Merry Andrew wrote:

Small wonder that hardly anyone reads Sterne any more. That was a painful experience just trying to get through your post.


I LOVE that book!!!!!
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 03:25 pm
@dlowan,
So do I.
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 04:02 pm
@spendius,
spendius wrote:

So do I.


This has to be the first time we have ever agreed on anything.

Tristram is quite the man.
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 04:44 pm
@dlowan,
We have agreed before my dear. It was about the raw deal ex-servicemen get compared to the cossetting of readers of video prompters and other casting couch versions of fortune and fame.

farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 07:16 pm
Quote:
I have stated in the preface to the first Edition of this work, and in the Zoology of the Voyage of the Beagle, that it was in consequence of a wish expressed by Captain Fitz Roy, of having some scientific person on board, accompanied by an offer from him of giving up part of his own accommodations, that I volunteered my services, which received, through the kindness of the hydrographer, Captain Beaufort, the sanction of the Lords of the Admiralty. As I feel that the opportunities which I enjoyed of studying the Natural History of the different countries we visited, have been wholly due to Captain Fitz Roy, I hope I may here be permitted to repeat my expression of gratitude to him; and to add that, during the five years we were together, I received from him the most cordial friendship and steady assistance. Both to Captain Fitz Roy and to all the Officers of the Beagle I shall ever feel most thankful for the undeviating kindness with which I was treated during our long voyage


Voyages of the Beagle--Charles Darwin.

A ripping yarn, marred only by the mayonnaise -like , and dreadful Victorian writing style. Actually the best volume of all of CD's works IMO,
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 07:24 pm
@farmerman,
correction, THE VOYAGE OF THE BEAGLE. (One voyage, many P'sOC)
0 Replies
 
tsarstepan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 08:17 pm
@dlowan,
Knew it sounded vaguely familiar. Had forgotten if I had actually read it or not. And I definitely had read such a wonderful work of satire.
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Fri 9 Oct, 2009 03:58 am
@farmerman,
As I understand it Darwin and Fitzroy were not always on the friendliest of terms and the crew had much fun taking the piss out of Darwin for his Christian thinking which he derived from Milton whose books he had with him on the voyage. There was also some trouble after they returned home and Fitroy eventually committed suicide.

I'm inclined to think that reportage is not literature.
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 9 Oct, 2009 04:40 am
@spendius,
I sit corrected.

But I amn't your dear, dear.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 9 Oct, 2009 04:41 am
@tsarstepan,
On ya!!!!
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Fri 9 Oct, 2009 05:14 am
@spendius,
Quote:
As I understand it Darwin and Fitzroy were not always on the friendliest of terms and the crew had much fun taking the piss out of Darwin for his Christian thinking which he derived from Milton whose books he had with him on the voyage.


From writings of Darwin, Fitzroy, and Darwins own "manservant", Fitzroy and Darwin NEVER argued re: doctrinal issues during the voyage. They had a few dustups on slavery . The real "falling out" began several years after the voyage when Fitzroy published his own journal of the voyage followed by Darwins. Fitzroy gradually distanced himself from the scientific worldviews that Darwin posed in his "Voyage...".(Even though it was Fitzroy who presented DArwin with Lyells book as a sort of bon voyage gift) THen when Darwin published the "Origin..." 20 years after, Fitzroy, by publically arguing fpr a traditional Bible centered science, was often booed off stages whenever he was invited to speak.
Fitzroy was a man prone to incapacitating depressions that manifested themselves when he was a "post Beagle" citizen. (HE was after all, the father of the Weather Channel and was a governor of New Zealand for a few years in the 1840's, so his life wasnt devoid of human contact). However, his suicide did correspond to his life well after "The Origin..." when he possibly despaired re: DArwin's "Acute aetheistic errors in interpretation and his denial of a God"...

So he sliced himself in the throat and let Darwin win by default , the putz.
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Fri 9 Oct, 2009 06:14 am
@spendius,
spendius wrote:

As I understand it Darwin and Fitzroy were not always on the friendliest of terms
and the crew had much fun taking the piss out of Darwin
This was done surgically ?
Was it a prostate problem ?
Explain ?





David
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Fri 9 Oct, 2009 09:29 am
@farmerman,
Quote:
So he sliced himself in the throat and let Darwin win by default , the putz.


He might have despaired than he was the man who chose the man who abolished God or was thought to have done.

As I understand it Fitzroy had already chosen one of his friends to accompany him on the trip in order to reduce the worst effects of a captain's loneliness and the friend refused the honour. Hence, like my missed penalty, the reason the friend refused, probably the charms of a lady, is why we have Origins in the form we have and the reason for all which has followed. They had a dust up over an execution as well.

But the general theory would have appeared anyway due to the progress of imperialism, industrialism, and science. In which case Darwin is not very significant at all.

The invention of the steam engine is actually the Big Daddy of everything in materialism as we now know it.
0 Replies
 
 

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