10 Famous Opening Lines From Novels

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Published: Monday, September 24, 2012, 18:27 [IST]
 
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The opening line of any novel is its most significant line. It is the line that we remember the entire novel by the first line. It has often been seen that most of the popular classic novels have very famous first lines. In fact, the first line in itself, becomes symbolic of the novel and everything that is being said in it.

Here is Boldsky's pick of the most famous opening lines from various classic novels written so far.

Famous Firt Lines From Novels

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

Famou First Lines

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

Famous First Lines

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair."

Famous First Lines

"As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic vermin."

Famous First Lines

"Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the riverbank, 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?" The tale of an imaginative girl.

Famous First Lines

"Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins."

Famous First Lines

"If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth."

Famous First Lines

"Midway in our life's journey, I went astray from the straight road and woke to find myself alone in a dark wood."

Famous First Lines

"Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."

Famous First Lines

"No one would have believed, in the last years of the nineteenth century, that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were being scrutinized and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinize the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water."

1. Anna Karenina written by Leo Tolstroy:

"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." This famous first line from Leo Tolstroy's novel Anna Karenina tells us exactly what the novel is about. The breaking up of families; in this case due to passionate love affairs.

2. Pride And Prejudice written 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." Master storyteller Jane Austen tells us in the very opening line that this novel is going to be about the polite match-making in English society.

3. Lolita written by Vladamir Nabokov:

"Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins." Secret passion for an adolescent girl is the theme of this novel and Nabokov gives us a good look at his nymphomaniac character.

4. One Hundred Years Of Solitude written by Gabriel García Márquez:

"Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice." The history of the Buendia dynasty interwoven with the city of Macondo. The first line itself tells us that the entire novel is a nostalgic recollection.

5. Tale Of Two Cities written by Charles Dickens:

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair." It was truly an epoch of turmoil. The troubled times before the French Revolution are echoed in these famous first lines of this novel.

6. Catcher In The Rye written by J. D. Salinger

"If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth." Salinger is dead but adolescent hero Holden Caulfeild will live forever.

7. Metamorphosis written by Franz Kafka:

"As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic vermin." These opening lines are characteristic of Kafka's macabre humour.

8. Alice In Wonderland written By Lewis Carroll:

"Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the riverbank, 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?" The tale of an imaginative girl.

9. Inferno written by Dante:

"Midway in our life's journey, I went astray from the straight road and woke to find myself alone in a dark wood." The horror of the underworld life comes alive.

10. War Of The Worlds written by H G Wells

"No one would have believed, in the last years of the nineteenth century, that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were being scrutinized and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinize the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water." This novel came when there was no concept of a friendly neighbourhood alien.

These are some of the most famous opening lines from novels. Does any other opening line strike you as unforgettable?

Topics: literature, books
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