Thursday, June 6, 2013

June Classics Club Meme: Best First Line

The June Classics Club Question is this:

What is your favourite opening sentence from a classic novel (and why)?

And the line that comes to my mind right off is of course this one:

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.

Did you notice? We actually get a twofer with this one! The best first line AND paragraph! 

I don't know why I love this one so much, probably because there's so much that it's saying here. It paints the picture of this troubled time so well, right from the start. The opposites of life opposing each other, the frustration, the edge of something big happening yet something terrible had to happen first. I don't know, it just hits you hard, this first line.

By the way, this book has the best last line too:

"It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known."

Yes, that.

Oh, wait! You'd like to know the book? A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens of course!

What would be your favorite first line from a classic?


  1. You have got to love the opening line to Pride and Prejudice
    "It is universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife"

    I also love the beginning of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
    "First the colors. Then the humans. That's usually how I see things. Or at least, how I try.
    Here is a small fact. You are going to die. I am in all truthfulness attempting to be cheerful about the whole topic..."

    Different enough examples for you? :)

    1. Smiling: LOVE those both!

    2. Btw, have you heard of the Bulwer-Lytton contest? He is the writer of 'it was a dark and stormy night' and they have a contest to come up with an equally corny, funny opening line
      Some are quite funny. You should check them out.

  2. You've reminded me of how much I love that book <3

  3. That is seriously one of the best lines of all time! I need to re-read that.

    1. Melissa: I loved my re-read experience last year.

  4. I picked this one, too! It's such a great sentence (paragraph!) that so sets the tone.

  5. WOW that is a long first line! I haven't read A Tale of Two Cities yet, hopefully I will someday soon :)



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