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Topic: Opening Lines of Novels, Famous First Lines of Novels, Best Opening Lines
Related Quotes:   First Lines of Poems
Opening Lines Novels Page 2   Opening Lines Novels Page 3
Call me Ishmael.
Moby Dick (1851), Herman Melville

He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish.
The Old Man and the Sea (1952), Ernest Hemingway

When Mr Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.
The Lord of the Rings (1954-1955), J.R.R. Tolkien (John Ronald Reuel Tolkien)

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.
The Catcher in the Rye (1951), J. D. Salinger

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
Pride and Prejudice (1813), Jane Austen

Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.
One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967; trans. Gregory Rabassa), Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.
Lolita (1955), Vladimir Nabokov

Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
Anna Karenina (1877; trans. Constance Garnett), Leo Tolstoy

riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodious vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.
Finnegans Wake (1939), James Joyce

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.
1984 (Nineteen Eighty-Four) (1949), George Orwell

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.
A Tale of Two Cities (1859) Charles Dickens

There is a lovely road that runs from Ixopo into the hills. These hills are grass-covered and rolling, and they are lovely beyond any singing of it.
Cry, the Beloved Country (1948) Alan Paton

When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.
To Kill a Mockingbird (1960), Harper Lee

I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allan Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids -- and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.
Invisible Man (1952), Ralph Ellison

The Miss Lonelyhearts of the New York Post-Dispatch (Are you in trouble? - Do-you-need-advice? - Write-to-Miss-Lonelyhearts-and-she-will-help-you) sat at his desk and stared at a piece of white cardboard.
Miss Lonelyhearts (1933), Nathanael West

You don't know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain't no matter.
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), Mark Twain

All children, except one, grow up.
Peter Pan (1911), J.M. Barrie

Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything truly wrong, he was arrested.
The Trial (1925; trans. Breon Mitchell), Franz Kafka

You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino's new novel, If on a winter's night a traveler.
If on a winter's night a traveler (1979; trans. William Weaver), Italo Calvino,

The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new.
Murphy (1938), Samuel Beckett

Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo.
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916), James Joyce

This is the saddest story I have ever heard.
The Good Soldier (1915), Ford Madox Ford

A screaming comes across the sky.
Gravity's Rainbow (1973), Thomas Pynchon

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.
David Copperfield (1850), Charles Dickens

Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed.
Ulysses (1922), James Joyce

It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the house-tops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.
Paul Clifford (1830), Edward George Bulwer-Lytton

One summer afternoon Mrs. Oedipa Maas came home from a Tupperware party whose hostess had put perhaps too much kirsch in the fondue to find that she, Oedipa, had been named executor, or she supposed executrix, of the estate of one Pierce Inverarity, a California real estate mogul who had once lost two million dollars in his spare time but still had assets numerous and tangled enough to make the job of sorting it all out more than honorary.
The Crying of Lot 49 (1966), Thomas Pynchon

It was a wrong number that started it, the telephone ringing three times in the dead of night, and the voice on the other end asking for someone he was not.
City of Glass (1985), Paul Auster

Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting.
The Sound and the Fury (1929), William Faulkner

124 was spiteful.
Beloved (1987), Toni Morrison

Somewhere in la Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a gentleman lived not long ago, one of those who has a lance and ancient shield on a shelf and keeps a skinny nag and a greyhound for racing.
Don Quixote (1605; trans. Edith Grossman), Miguel de Cervantes

Mother died today. Or, maybe, yesterday; I can't be sure. The telegram from the Home says: Your mother passed away. Funeral tomorrow. Deep sympathy. Which leaves the matter doubtful; it could have been yesterday.
The Stranger, or The Outsider (1942; trans. Stuart Gilbert), Albert Camus

Every summer Lin Kong returned to Goose Village to divorce his wife, Shuyu.
Waiting (1999), Ha Jin

The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.
Neuromancer (1984), William Gibson

I am a sick man . . . I am a spiteful man.
Notes from Underground (1864; trans. Michael R. Katz), Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Where now? Who now? When now?
The Unnamable (1953; trans. Patrick Bowles), Samuel Beckett

Once an angry man dragged his father along the ground through his own orchard. "Stop!" cried the groaning old man at last, "Stop! I did not drag my father beyond this tree."
The Making of Americans (1925), Gertrude Stein

In a sense, I am Jacob Horner.
The End of the Road (1958), John Barth

It was like so, but wasn't.
Galatea 2.2 (1995), Richard Powers

- Money . . . in a voice that rustled.
J R (1975), William Gaddis

Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.
Mrs. Dalloway (1925), Virginia Woolf

All this happened, more or less.
Slaughterhouse-Five (1969), Kurt Vonnegut

They shoot the white girl first.
Paradise (1998), Toni Morrison

Dr. Weiss, at forty, knew that her life had been ruined by literature.
The Debut (1981), Anita Brookner

I was the shadow of the waxwing slain
By the false azure in the windowpane;
Pale Fire (1962), Vladimir Nabokov

Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board.
Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937), Zora Neale Hurston

I had the story, bit by bit, from various people, and, as generally happens in such cases, each time it was a different story.
Ethan Frome (1911), Edith Wharton

Ages ago, Alex, Allen and Alva arrived at Antibes, and Alva allowing all, allowing anyone, against Alex's admonition, against Allen's angry assertion: another African amusement . . . anyhow, as all argued, an awesome African army assembled and arduously advanced against an African anthill, assiduously annihilating ant after ant, and afterward, Alex astonishingly accuses Albert as also accepting Africa's antipodal ant annexation.
Alphabetical Africa (1974), Walter Abish

There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952), C. S. Lewis

It was the day my grandmother exploded.
The Crow Road (1992), Iain M. Banks

I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974.
Middlesex (2002), Jeffrey Eugenides
Opening Lines Novels Page 2   Opening Lines Novels Page 3

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