Classics Club Meme: June 2013

Saturday, June 22, 2013

This month's Classics Club question is: 
What is your favourite opening sentence from a classic novel (and why)?
There are two that stick out to me. One of them is somewhat stereotypical -- the beginning of A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.
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.
There is magic in those lines for several reasons, in my opinion. I think that first of all they are simply memorable because of the rhythm of the sentence. I also think they perfectly capture the French Revolution -- there is so much hope and yet so much despair, just as the lines describe.

The other beginning that I love is from Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind.
Scarlett O'Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were.
I've found that most people either love or hate Gone With the Wind. I am firmly in the love camp, despite the unlikable character and overly tragic ending. Part of that may be because it was the first huge book I'd ever read, but I think more than that, it is because despite Scarlett's negative qualities, she is a survivor, and she grows. I'd never want to have her close in my life, but I respect her and see her redeeming qualities all the same. I love the way this sentence illustrates that Scarlett is more than just beautiful -- she is cunning, sharp, and persistent.

Which opening lines of classics do you enjoy? 


  1. I haven't read either of those, but I SHOULD really read Gone With the Wind sometime soon... It's just so huge! Lol. And I have a lot of chunksters on my to-read list for this summer already... hmmm...

  2. I LOVE Scarlett. She is real. She is one of the best characters written because you see her for all of her, and goodness I would love to be like her. GWTW is hands down my all time favorite book (but I'm sure we've discussed this before).


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...