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Zephyr

Great Opening lines.......

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For the first time I and reading "A Tale of Two Cities".  With that classic opening line "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times....." it got me thinking about books that have that great first line.

"In the beginning...."  Bible

"Call me Ishmael."  Moby Dick

"She only stopped screaming when she died.  Then the baby started screaming"  Kane and Able

"The great fish swam silently through the night water...."  Jaws

"Dear Penthouse Forum"   : )

and of course (and I am paraphrasing here from reading it to my kids so don't jump on me if it is not exact)

"On the 15th of May on the Jungle of Nool

In the heat of the day in the cool of the pool

He was splashing, enjoying the jungles great joys

When Horton the Elephant heard a small noise..."   

What great opening lines have stuck with you?  Some are even greater than the book itself.  

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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.

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8 minutes ago, Zephyr said:

"Call me Ishmael."  Moby Dick

I get the impression that this is considered a great opening line because at the time it was a departure from typical literary style.  But here in 2018 I have to say it's hard for me to see the greatness in those three words.

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2 minutes ago, TrentonMakes said:

I get the impression that this is considered a great opening line because at the time it was a departure from typical literary style.  But here in 2018 I have to say it's hard for me to see the greatness in those three words.

It is a book written over 100 years ago, is 550-ish pages long and they see the whale for the first time 26 pages from the end.  Very few people in this day and age have read the book, yet a large majority of people know the opening line.  That is what (IMO) makes it great

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Hemingway had some great opening lines

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

"Robert Cohn was once middleweight boxing champion of Princeton. Do not think that I am very much impressed by that as a boxing title, but it meant a lot to Cohn."

—The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

And of course F Scott Fitzgerald

"In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since. 'Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,' he told me, 'just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had.'"

—The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

And finally Steinbeck and the Grapes of Wrath.

To the red country and part of the gray country of Oklahoma, the last rains came gently, and they did not cut the scarred earth.

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15 minutes ago, Zephyr said:

It is a book written over 100 years ago, is 550-ish pages long and they see the whale for the first time 26 pages from the end.  Very few people in this day and age have read the book, yet a large majority of people know the opening line.  That is what (IMO) makes it great

Point taken.

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14 minutes ago, jsharr said:

And finally Steinbeck and the Grapes of Wrath.

To the red country and part of the gray country of Oklahoma, the last rains came gently, and they did not cut the scarred earth.

One of my all time favorite books.

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Just now, TrentonMakes said:

One of my all time favorite books.

Having lived in and driven across much of Oklahoma and seen first hand signs of the dustbowl era erosion, I can understand that line.  

It was not uncommon to see erosion like this in the 70s

Image result for dust bowl era erosion in oklahoma

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Hello. My name's Forrest. Forrest Gump. Do you want a chocolate? I could eat about a million and a half of these. My mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get.

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“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. That book was made by a Mr Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly.”  Mark Twain Huckleberry Finn

Which of course has to be followed by Salinger who proves once again that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery in his opening to Cathcer in the Rye, which pays homage to Mr. Twain and Mr. Dickens

“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 all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.” 
 

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Just now, Prophet Zacharia said:

“We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold. “

Hunter S Thompson Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas?  

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8 hours ago, Road Runner said:

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.

The first time I read this in the 1960's, the words jumped off the page at me, as if they had been written at that very time, and had been constructed to precisely describe our struggling post-war mid-20th century world.   The paradoxes still ring true for me today.      

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I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree. Trees by Joyce Kilmer

 

The day is done, and the darkness
__Falls from the wings of Night,
As a feather is wafted downward
__From an eagle in his flight.   Henry Wadswoth Longfellow, The Day is Done.

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The Prologue setting the opening for Romeo and Juliet.

Two households, both alike in dignity
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.

Two households, both alike in dignity,

In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,

From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,

Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.

From forth the fatal loins of these two foes

A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life

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De Bello Gallico, Julius Caesar (Book One, Chapter One)

Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres, quarum unam incolunt Belgae, aliam Aquitani, tertiam qui ipsorum lingua Celtae, nostra Galli appellantur.

Ok, that might not be an everyday opening line you would normally think of, but if I want to show off, it is about the only thing I remember from my 10th Grade Latin class.  It is also a major military source as WWII Generals studies and applied Julius Caesars Gallic campaigns in their strategy.

Translation"

The Gallic Wars

All Gaul is divided into three parts, one of which the Belgae inhabit, the Aquitani, who in their own language a called Celts, in another, our Gauls in the third.

 

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15 hours ago, shootingstar said:

'Twas the night before Christmas...  🎅💝😏  Oh sorry, this isn't a novel..  Shucks..

You are right though.., iconic opening line

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