Great opening lines in literature

I don’t know if you agree or not, the first lines/pages of a book are vital for me. It makes me decide whether or not I should read that book. Maybe it sounds too judgemental but it is not only me. I’ve been asking this question to my friends for so long that this is almost a general conclusion: If the first lines/pages are catchy, a book survives. 🙂

Sometimes, those lines may get lost in translation. This is a little discouraging for monolingual literature fans. However, this is the topic of another article, isn’t it?

Now, let’s see some great opening lines in literature, compiled by . You can always read more by clicking the link at the bottom.


“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 and Prejudice (1813)


‘All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

Leo Tolstoy: Anna Karenina (1878)


“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.”

Charles Dickens: A Tale Of Two Cities (1859)


“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: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884)


“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 criticising any one, he told me, just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby (1925)


“As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a monstrous vermin.”

Franz Kafka: Metamorphosis (1915)


“All children, except one, grow up.”

J.M. Barrie: Peter Pan (1911)


“Under certain circumstance there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”

Henry James: The Portrait of a Lady (1880)


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.”

Vladimir Nabokov: Lolita (1955)


“Mother died today. Or maybe, yesterday; I can’t be sure.”

Albert Camus: The Stranger (1946)

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Lee Eisenberg on December 13, 2013 at 00:39

    You forgot one:

    “Call me Ishmael,” from “Moby Dick” by Herman Melville.


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