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Best first lines in literature-- let's take a break from politics for a bit of culture.

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posted on Oct, 15 2016 @ 10:56 AM
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a reply to: JDeLattre89

Hitch-hiker's Guide! Excellent!




posted on Oct, 15 2016 @ 11:12 AM
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The children were playing while Holston climbed to his death; he could hear them squealing as only happy children do.
- Wool, Hugh Howey


From the top of the large boulder he sat on, Ensign Tom Davis looked across the expanse of the cave toward Captain Lucius Abernathy, Science Officer Q'eeng and Chief Engineer Paul West perched on a second, larger boulder, and thought, Well, this sucks.
- Red Shirts, John Scalzi


For the most wild, yet most homely narrative which I am about to pen, I neither expect nor solicit belief. Mad indeed would I be to expect it, in a case where my very senses reject their own evidence. Yet, mad I am not -- and very surely do I not dream. But tomorrow I die, and today I would unburthen my soul.
"The Black Cat," Edgar Allen Poe.


When Miss Emily Grierson died, our whole town went to her funeral: the men through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument, the women mostly out of curiosity to see the inside of her house, which no one save an old man-servant -- a combined gardener and cook --had seen in at least ten years.
- "A Rose for Emily," William Faulkner
edit on 15-10-2016 by ketsuko because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 15 2016 @ 11:16 AM
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a reply to: zosimov

Yep, the second line of Lolita is way better thanthe first. The tongue really does make that journey.



posted on Oct, 15 2016 @ 11:17 AM
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The first one that comes to mind is "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." But being a King fan This spawned 7 books and hundreds of references in other books, “The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.”



posted on Oct, 15 2016 @ 11:23 AM
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It's hard to craft a good opener. You need something that makes the reader want to go on and see what you were hinting at.



posted on Oct, 15 2016 @ 11:29 AM
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originally posted by: ketsuko
It's hard to craft a good opener. You need something that makes the reader want to go on and see what you were hinting at.


Agreed. In anticipation of this thread, I read many openings of my favorite novels.. only certain first lines packed that special punch.

Here's one from Solzhenitsyn

Reveille was sounded, as always, at 5 A.M.--a hammer pounding on a nail outside camp HQ.

Great choices, BTW.
edit on 15-10-2016 by zosimov because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 15 2016 @ 11:34 AM
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From Machiavelli:

It is customary for those who wish to gain the favor of a prince to endeavor to do so by offering him gifts of those things which they hold most precious, or in which they know him to take especial delight.



posted on Oct, 15 2016 @ 11:35 AM
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a reply to: zosimov

Yes, I've been paging through lots of my favorites.


Watership Down? -- "The primroses were over." and I love that book, so clearly it was not the first sentence that made me read that book.



posted on Oct, 15 2016 @ 11:46 AM
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originally posted by: ketsuko
a reply to: zosimov

Yes, I've been paging through lots of my favorites.


Watership Down? -- "The primroses were over." and I love that book, so clearly it was not the first sentence that made me read that book.


lol!
Exactly. How bout this one from Faulkner (Barn Burning):

"The store in which the justice of the Peace's court was sitting smelled of cheese."

Not the most appealing! But followed by this:

"The boy, crouched on his nail keg at the back of the crowded room, knew he smelled cheese, and more: from where he sat he could see the ranked shelves close-packed with the solid, squat, dynamic shapes of tin cans whose
labels his stomach read, not from the lettering which meant nothing to his mind but from the scarlet devils and the silver curve of fish - this, the cheese which he knew he smelled and the hermetic meat which his intestines believed he smelled coming in intermittent gusts momentary and brief between the other constant one, the smell and sense just a little of fear because mostly of despair and grief, the old fierce pull of blood."

Definitely interested now!
edit on 15-10-2016 by zosimov because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 15 2016 @ 12:10 PM
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"I wish I were a girl again, half-savage and hardy, and free.”
Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights

“The caged bird sings with a fearful trill,
of things unknown, but longed for still,
and his tune is heard on the distant hill,
for the caged bird sings of freedom.”
Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars"
Jack Kerouac, On The Road

“Goodness can be found sometimes in the middle of hell.”
Charles Bukowski, Women

"From Ib to Asshai, when men see my sails, they pray."
George RR Martin, A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire)



posted on Oct, 15 2016 @ 12:19 PM
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A gentle knight was pricking on the plain
Yclad in shining armes and silver shielde
Spenser, "Faerie Queene"


Whan that Aprille with his shoures soot
The droghte of March hath perced to the root
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
Of which vertu engendred is the flour...
Than longen folk to goon on pilgrimages
And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes
Chaucer, "Canterbury Tales"



posted on Oct, 15 2016 @ 12:22 PM
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a reply to: DISRAELI

In that vein, Pilgrim's Progress:

As I walked through the wilderness of this world, I lighted on a certain place where was a den, and laid me down in that place to sleep; and as I slept, I dreamed a dream.



posted on Oct, 15 2016 @ 12:23 PM
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originally posted by: Jennyfrenzy
"I wish I were a girl again, half-savage and hardy, and free.”
Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights

“The caged bird sings with a fearful trill,
of things unknown, but longed for still,
and his tune is heard on the distant hill,
for the caged bird sings of freedom.”
Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars"
Jack Kerouac, On The Road

“Goodness can be found sometimes in the middle of hell.”
Charles Bukowski, Women

"From Ib to Asshai, when men see my sails, they pray."
George RR Martin, A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire)


Really excellent picks. Thanks.



posted on Oct, 15 2016 @ 12:23 PM
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a reply to: zosimov

Or Tom Sawyer ... "Tom!"

Brevity is the soul of wit?



posted on Oct, 15 2016 @ 01:48 PM
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Man, I could go on ad infinitum (ironic considering above post!)

Here's one that may sound familiar:

"In a village in La Mancha, the name of which I cannot quite recall, there lived not long ago one of those country gentlemen or hidalgos who keep a lance in a rack, and ancient leather shield, a scrawny hack and a greyhound for coursing."

The Library of Babel-- Jorge Louis Borges:

"The universe (which others call the Library) is composed of an indefinite, perhaps infinite number of hexagonal galleries."

another Borges, "The Lottery in Babylon":

"Like all the men of Babylon, I have been proconsul; like all, I have been a slave."
edit on 15-10-2016 by zosimov because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 15 2016 @ 02:33 PM
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I owe the discovery of Uqbar to the conjunction of a mirror and an encyclopedia.


-Jorge Luis Borges Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius 1940



edit on 15-10-2016 by Dan00 because:




posted on Oct, 15 2016 @ 03:01 PM
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originally posted by: zosimov
The Library of Babel-- Jorge Louis Borges:

That story also has a superb last sentence which would fit well in the parallel thread.
I refer to the comment in the final footnote about the theoretical infinite volume, the "silky vade-mecum".



posted on Oct, 15 2016 @ 04:25 PM
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Nice thread and some great contributions.

"Everyone now knows how to find the meaning of life within themselves."
(The Sirens of Titan, Kurt Vonnegut)



"The magician's underwear had just been found in a cardboard suitcase floating in a stagnant pond on the outskirts of Miami."
(Another Roadside Attraction, Tom Robbins)

"In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing."
(A River Runs Through It, Norman McLean)
edit on 15-10-2016 by Anaana because: Put two lines instead of one...added two more to make up for the error...




posted on Oct, 15 2016 @ 05:03 PM
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a reply to: Anaana

I agree; excellent contributions, including yours! I loved that Vonnegut book. Thanks for sharing.. what a library of great minds we have here on ATS!

to all

Here's a link to a companion piece authored by JDeLattre on favorite book endings:

www.abovetopsecret.com...


edit on 15-10-2016 by zosimov because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 15 2016 @ 05:46 PM
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"It's not about you."
'The Purpose Driven Life', Rick Warren

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."
Book of Genesis in the Bible

"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life..."
I John 1:1 in the Bible




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