Thursday, January 26, 2012

Good Beginnings and Good Endings

Last November Listverse posted the Top 15 opening lines of novels. Here are four of them that I knew and agreed are great lines.

1. “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” — Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy

5. “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” — 1984 – George Orwell

6. “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 – Charles Dickens

14. “Midway in our life’s journey, I went astray from the straight road and woke to find myself alone in a dark wood.” — Inferno – Dante
Intrigued, I went looking for some others. Some of these are just as famous and well-known.
Call me Ishmael. Some years ago - never mind how long precisely - having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. - Moby Dick- Hermann Melville

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- Cervantes

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. Old Man and the Sea- Ernest Hemingway

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. 100 Years of Solitude - Gabriel García Márquez

Read more: Best First Lines of Novels —

But three closing lines stand out as great in my memory....
"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."
A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

"The offing was barred by a black bank of clouds, and the tranquil waterway leading to the utmost ends of the earth flowed sombre under an overcast sky — seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness."
Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
My all time favorite, because it speaks to me in more ways than can be expressed:
"Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of those rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters."
A River Runs Through It, Norman MacLean
The power of words to express reality!

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