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oneye1's avatar

What is the best opening line or closing line to a book in history?

Asked by oneye1 (745points) March 25th, 2008 from iPhone
Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

21 Answers

Randy's avatar

Opening- “Tyler gets me a job as a waiter, after that Tyler’s pushing a gun in my mouth and saying, the first step to eternal life is you have to die”.- Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

Closing- “where we’re standing right now, in the ruins in the dark, what we build could be anything”.- Choke by Chuck Palahniuk

sharl's avatar

“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

Ok, strictly speaking that’s four sentences, but they;re inseparable, and unbeatable.

oneye1's avatar

no that’s the spirit of this thread I should have said line or opening statment

cschack's avatar

“Mother died today…or was it yesterday?” A. Camus, The Stranger

Randy's avatar

@cschack- wow, that’s a good one. I’m going to have to check that book out now.

jrpowell's avatar


You should absolutely read Camus. He is amazing. And I would also suggest Kafka and Hesse.

mcbealer's avatar

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” from A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens which has an equally good ending, “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.”

Les's avatar

“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.” (Orwell, Animal Farm)

oneye1's avatar

It is a truth universally acknowledged,that a single man in possession of a good fortune,must be in want of a wife. Pride and prejudice

blunckhouse's avatar

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
– Last line in “The Great Gatsby.”

paulc's avatar

“When a day that you happen to know is Wednesday starts off by sounding like Sunday, there is something seriously wrong somewhere.”
– John Wyndham, The Day of the Triffids

“My suffering left me sad and gloomy.”
– Yann Martel, The Life of Pi

@sharl, excellent choice – one of my favourite books!

gailcalled's avatar

“Call me Ishmael’’ Moby Dick, Herman Melville

“It was love at first sight. The first time Yossarian saw the chaplain he fell madly in love with him.” Catch-22, Joseph Heller.

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

gailcalled's avatar

And to me, the most famous last line in English Lit. Molly Bloom’s soliloquy from Joyce’s ULYSSES.

”...I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes. ”

gailcalled's avatar

@oneye1; wonderful question; I assume that you are looking for lines from novels only?

Here’s the opening to Joyce’s ULYSSES;

“Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed.” Joyce deliberately starts and ends his book w “S.”

oneye1's avatar

your so great gail!!!

GD_Kimble's avatar

MEDVEDENKO: Why do you wear black all the time?

MASHA: I’m in mourning for my life. I’m very sad.

—Anton Chekhov, The Seagull

Sentry's avatar

”...but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all stories, and we can most truly say that they lived happily ever after…but for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and the adventures of Narnia had only been the cover and the title page; Now at last, they were beginning chapter one of the Great Story which no one on earth has read, which goes on forever, in which every chapter is better than the one before.” -The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis

occ's avatar

Gail- he didn’t just start and end it with S, he also started with a word that starts with s and ends with y, and the last word starts with y and ends with s…pure brilliance…if only other authors could make the hermeneutic cycle so much fun.

the best first lines have all been said here…Austen, Tolstoy, Joyce, Melville…what else is there to say?

mcw's avatar

“In the beginning….” :)

breedmitch's avatar

Last lines:
“Atticus, he was real nice…”
His hands were under my chin, pulling up the cover, tucking it in around me.
“Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them.”
He turned out the light and went into Jem’s room. He would be there all night, and he would be there when Jem waked up in the morning.

-Harper Lee

tiffyandthewall's avatar

“this will linger” – the realm of possibility, David Levithan (closing line)

“like most people, i didn’t meet and talk to Rant Casey until after he was dead.” – choke, Chuck Palahniuk (beginning)

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