The Opening Lines

4-November-Moonlight-city-scenes-landscape-John-Atkinson-Grimshaw

“Long long time ago, in the land of Transylvania,where silence reigned the hours past sunset..” .. and thus the  story’s curtains open up! Every storyteller has that gift of drawing attention from the very first line or the very first paragraph of his or her narration. This thought got me curious to search how some of the best storytellers had started their stories.What was that first tint of imagery they presented to their readers that commenced that adventurous journey of experiencing their story till the end.I searched through the few books I have in my collection and  compiled this list of the opening lines of a few of them.Hope some of them will bring some good reading memories back!

 

Marley was dead, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergy-man, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it. And Scrooge’s name was good upon ’Change for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.

-Charles Dickens. A Christmas Carol 

Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, 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 conversations?”

Lewis Carroll. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

There were four of us— George, and William Samuel Harris, and myself, and Montmorency.   We were sitting in my room, smoking, and talking about how bad we were— bad from a medical point of view I mean, of course.

-Jerome K.Jerome.Three Men in a Boat

Once upon a time, there was a prostitute called Maria. Wait a minute. ‘Once upon a time’ is how all the best children’s stories begin and ‘prostitute’ is a word for adults. How can I start a book with this apparent contradiction? But since, at every moment of our lives, we all have one foot in a fairy tale and the other in the abyss, let’s keep that beginning.

Once upon a time, there was a prostitute called Maria.

Paolo Coelho.Eleven Minutes

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, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

Charles Dickens. A Tale of Two Cities

Mike Bowman whistled cheerfully as he drove the Land Rover through the Cabo Blanco Biological Reserve, on the west coast of Costa Rica. It was a beautiful morning in July, and the road before him was spectacular: hugging the edge of a cliff, overlooking the jungle and the blue Pacific.

-Michael Crichton. Jurassic Park 

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

-Jane Austen. Pride & Prejudice 

THE BOY’S NAME WAS SANTIAGO. DUSK WAS FALLING AS the boy arrived with his herd at an abandoned church. The roof had fallen in long ago, and an enormous sycamore had grown on the spot where the sacristy had once stood.

-Paulo Coelho. The Alchemist

Amerigo Bonasera sat in New York Criminal Court Number 3 and waited for justice; vengeance on the men who had so cruelly hurt his daughter, who had tried to dishonor her.

The judge, a formidably heavy-featured man, rolled up the sleeves of his black robe as if to physically chastise the two young men standing before the bench. His face was cold with majestic contempt. But there was something false in all this that Amerigo Bonasera sensed but did not yet understand.

Mario Puzo, The Godfather

Robert Langdon awoke slowly. A telephone was ringing in the darkness—a tinny, unfamiliar ring. He fumbled for the bedside lamp and turned it on. Squinting at his surroundings he saw a plush Renaissance bedroom with Louis XVI furniture, hand-frescoed walls, and a colossal mahogany four-poster bed. Where the hell am I?

Dan Brown. The Da Vinci Code

In the shade of the house, in the sunshine of the river bank by the boats, in the shade of the sallow wood and the fig tree, Siddhartha, the handsome Brahmin’s son, grew up with his friend Govinda. The sun browned his slender shoulders on the river bank,while bathing at the holy ablutions, at the holy sacrifices.Shadows passed across his eyes in the mango grove during play,while his mother sang, during his father’s teachings, when with the learned men.

-Hermann Hesse. Siddhartha 

HOWARD ROARK laughed. He stood naked at the edge of a cliff. The lake lay far below him. A frozen explosion of granite burst in flight to the sky over motionless water. The water seemed immovable, the stone–flowing. The stone had the stillness of one brief moment in battle when thrust meets thrust and the currents are held in a pause more dynamic than motion. The stone glowed, wet with sunrays.

-Ayn Rand. The Fountainhead

WHETHER I SHALL TURN OUT TO BE THE HERO OF MY own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. To begin my life with the beginning of my life, I record that I was born (as I have been informed and believe) on a Friday, at twelve o‘clock at night. It was remarked that the clock began to strike, and I began to cry, simultaneously.

Charles Dickens. David Copperfield 

High atop the steps of the Pyramid of Giza a young woman laughed and called down to him. “Robert, hurry up! I knew I should have married a younger man!” Her smile was magic. He struggled to keep up, but his legs felt like stone. “Wait,” he begged. “Please…” As he climbed, his vision began to blur. There was a thundering in his ears. I must reach her! But when he looked up again, the woman had disappeared. In her place stood an old man with rotting teeth. The man stared down, curling his lips into a lonely grimace. Then he let out a scream of anguish that resounded across the desert.

Dan Brown. Angels & Demons 

It was love at first sight.  The first time Yossarian saw the chaplain he fell madly in love with him.Yossarian was in the hospital with a pain in his liver that fell just short of being jaundice. The doctors were puzzled by the fact that it wasn’t quite jaundice. If it became jaundice they could treat it. If it didn’t become jaundice and went away they could discharge him. But this just being short of jaundice all the time confused them.

Joseph Heller. Catch-22

Mr. Sherlock Holmes, who was usually very late in the mornings, save upon those not infrequent occasions when he was up all night, was seated at the breakfast table. I stood upon the hearth-rug and picked up the stick which our visitor had left behind him the night before. It was a fine, thick piece of wood, bulbous-headed, of the sort which is known as a “Penang lawyer.” Just under the head was a broad silver band nearly an inch across. “To James Mortimer, M.R.C.S., from his friends of the C.C.H.,” was engraved upon it, with the date “1884.” It was just such a stick as the old-fashioned family practitioner used to carry–dignified, solid, and reassuring. “Well, Watson, what do you make of it?” Holmes was sitting with his back to me, and I had given him no sign of my occupation. “How did you know what I was doing? I believe you have eyes in the back of your head.” “I have, at least, a well-polished, silver-plated coffee-pot in front of me,” said he.

-Doyle, Arthur Conan Sir. The Hound of Baskervilles

My suffering left me sad and gloomy.Academic study and the steady, mindful practice of religion slowly wrought me back to life. I have kept up with what some people would consider my strange religious practices. After one year of high school, I attended the University of Toronto and took a double-major Bachelor’s degree. My majors were religious studies and zoology. My fourth-year thesis for religious studies concerned certain aspects of the cosmogony theory of Isaac Luria, the great sixteenth-century Kabbalist from Safed. My zoology thesis was a functional analysis of the thyroid gland of the three-toed sloth. I chose the sloth because its demeanour-calm, quiet and introspective–did something to soothe my
shattered self.

Yann Martel.Life of Pie

It is a curious thing that at my age–fifty-five last birthday–I should find myself taking up a pen to try to write a history. I wonder what sort of a history it will be when I have finished it, if ever I come to the end of the trip!

H Rider Haggard.King Solomon’s Mines

When farmer Oak smiled,the corners of his mouth spread till they were within an unimportant distance of his ears,his eyes were reduced to chinks,and diverging wrinkles appeared round them,extending upon his countenance like the rays in a rudimentary sketch of the rising sun

Thomas Hardy.Far From the Madding Crowd

 

 

(image not owned by me.Taken from-

http://www.oilpaintingfactory.com/pic/Oil%20Painting%20Masterpieces%20on%20Canvas/Grimshaw%20John%20Atkinson_England_1836-1893/4-November-Moonlight-city-scenes-landscape-John-Atkinson-Grimshaw.jpg)

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4 thoughts on “The Opening Lines

  1. There are some great novels here. I have four of those novels sitting on my bookshelf in my lounge. (“Pride and Prejudice” might be chiclit but it is an awesome read, guys!)

    There are also a couple of novels there that I’ve never read. I’ll have to look them up. Thank you for opening up a couple of other novels to me.

    Liked by 1 person

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