The Guardian and Observer Books Season 2011 is hosting a contest on famous first lines in novels. You watch a video with six first lines, then provide your contact info below the video with your answers. Three winners will receive those six books, and the grand prize winner will also get an Amazon Kindle!
The catch is that you have to be a UK resident (sorry I tricked you fellow Americans!). But if you are one, the deadline’s Nov. 6. For the rest of us, it’s just fun to watch a beautifully animated video with some of the best sentences in the literary world. I personally knew 4 out of the 6 books, so I’m pretty pleased!
What are some of your other favorite first lines? Here’s my list from books I’ve read–Can you guess where they’re from?
- 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.
- If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book.
- Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.
- As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.
- Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-eight million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.
- The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.
- There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.
- I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allan Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids–and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.
- Mother died today. Or maybe yesterday, I don’t know.
- It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. (Yes, I only read 50 pages of this one, but it’s still an excellent opening!)