Favorite first lines of a novel

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  • It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. (George Orwell, 1984)
  • At an age when most young Scotsmen were lifting skirts, plowing furrows and spreading seed, Mungo Park was displaying his bare buttocks to al-haj' Ali Ibn Fatoudi, Emir of Ludamar. (T.C. Boyle, Water Music)
  • Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul - Lo...Lee...Ta. (Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita)
  • Nobody was really surprised when it happened, not really, not on the subconscious level where savage things grow. (Stephen King, Carrie)
  • Marley was dead, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. (Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol)
  • Last Night I dreamt I went to Manderly again. (Daphne DuMaurier, Rebecca)
  • Of Mans First Disobedience, and the Fruit Of that Forbidden Tree, whose mortal tast Brought Death into the World, and all our woe, With loss of EDEN, till one greater Man Restore us, and regain the blissful Seat (John Milton, Paradise Lost)
  • Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. (Charles Dickens, David Copperfield)
  • What's it going to be then, eh? (Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange)
  • My desert-island, all-time, top five most memorable split-ups, in chronological order: 1) Alison Ashworth, 2) Penny Hardwick, 3) Jackie Allen, 4) Charlie Nicholson 5) Sarah Kendrew. (Nick Hornby, High Fidelity)
  • It was a pleasure to burn. (Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451)
  • Like the brief doomed flare of exploding suns that registers dimly on blind men's eyes, the beginning of the horror passed almost unnoticed; in the shriek of what followed, in fact, was forgotten and perhaps not connected to the horror at all. (William Peter Blatty, The Exorcist)
  • Call me Ishmael. (Herman Melville, Moby-Dick)
  • One morning, as Gregor Samsa was waking up from anxious dreams, he discovered that in bed he had been changed into a monstrous verminous bug. (Franz Kavka, Metamorphosis)
  • You better not never tell nobody but God. (Alice Walker, The Color Purple)
  • The terror, which would not end for another twenty-eight years - if it ever did end - began, so far as I know or can tell, with a boat made from a sheet of newspaper floating down a gutter swollen with rain. (Stephen King, It)
  • The day broke grey and dull. The clouds hung heavily, and there was a rawness in the air that suggested snow. (William Somerset Maugham, Of Human Bondage)
  • All children, except one, grow up. (J.M.Barrie, Peter Pan)
  • It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possesion of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. (Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice)
  • Two households, both alike in dignity, In fair Verona, where we lay our scene, From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean. (William Shakespeare, Romeo & Juliet)
  • The Time Traveller (for so it will be convenient to speak of him) was expounding a recondite matter to us. (H.G. Wells, The Time Machine)
  • Granted: I am an inmate of a mental hospital; my keeper is watching me, he never lets me out of his sight; there's a peephole in the door, and my keeper's eye is the shade of brown that can never see through a blue-eyed type like me. (G√ľnter Grass, The Tin Drum)
  • "TOM!" No answer. "TOM!" No answer. (Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer)
  • We started dying before the snow, and like the snow, we continued to fall. (Louise Erdrich, Tracks)
  • 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. (Charles Dickens, Tale of Two Cities)