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15 Immortal Opening Lines

by Joshywashington Sep 29, 2009
Opening lines have to be good, but sometimes they almost seem immortal.

It was a pleasure to burn.

    1. -Ray Bradbury,

Fahrenheit 451

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.

    1. -Gabriel García Márquez,

One Hundred Years of Solitude

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

-George Orwell,1984

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.

    1. -Mark Twain,

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.

    1. -Sylvia Plath,

The Bell Jar

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.

-J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting.

-William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury

The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.

    1. -William Gibson,


All this happened, more or less.

    1. -Kurt Vonnegut,


Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board.

    1. -Zora Neale Hurston,

Their Eyes Were Watching God

There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.

-C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

What if this young woman, who writes such bad poems, in competition with her husband, whose poems are equally bad, should stretch her remarkably long and well-made legs out before you, so that her skirt slips up to the tops of her stockings?

    1. -Gilbert Sorrentino,

Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things

You better not never tell nobody but God.

-Alice Walker, The Color Purple

On my naming day when I come 12 I gone front spear and kilt a wyld boar he parbly ben the las wyld pig on the Bundel Downs any how there hadnt ben none for a long time befor him nor I aint looking to see none agen.

-Russell Hoban, Riddley Walker

I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.

    1. -Dodie Smith,

I Capture the Castle

Community Connection

These are some of my picks.Ttime for you to weigh in: what is your favorite opening line from a novel? What makes a great opening line?

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