Famous Beginnings

When Twitter came up with the concept of ‘Vine’ videos, the world seemed to realise that its attention span had shrunk to 6 seconds. Writing in The Telegraph, Hannah Furness responds to the claim that literature must similarly “grab readers by the throat”, selecting the finest examples of novels whose opening lines do just that. Here are some of the best:

– “It was a quiet, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.” – Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar, 1963

– “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” – George Orwell, 1984, 1949

– “All children, except one, grow up.” – J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan, 1911

– “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, 1951

– “Mother died today. Or maybe, yesterday; I can’t be sure.” – Albert Camus, The Outsider, 1946
Hannah Furness’ article appeared in The Telegraph, March 10th.

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