Great Opening Lines - A Challenge List
- 1. THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER by Edgar Allan Poe. Identified by jenhowel. This is the opening line that inspired this list: "During the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country; and at length found myself, as the shades of the evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher."
- 2. FAHRENHEIT 451 by Ray Bradbury. Identified by jenhowel: "It was a pleasure to burn."
- 3. THE ILIAD by Homer. Revealed (but not identified) by Jim: "An angry man - there is my story."
- 4. THE AENEID by Virgil. Identified by jenhowel: "I tell about war and the hero who first from Troy's frontier, displaced by destiny, came to the Lavinian shores, to Italy."
- 5. DANTE'S INFERNO [from THE DIVINE COMEDY] by Dante Alighieri. Identified by jenhowel: "In the midway of this our mortal life, I found me in a gloomy wood, astray gone from the path direct."
- 6. ON THE DOWNHILL SIDE by Harlan Ellison. Identified by Jim: "I knew she was a virgin because she was able to ruffle the silken mane of my unicorn."
- 7. THE WAR OF THE WORLDS by H.G.Wells. Identified by Nadine: "No one would have believed, in the last years of the nineteenth century, that human affairs were being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their affairs they were scrutinized and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinize the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water."
- 8. THIS CHALLENGE HAS BEEN RELOCATED TO VOLUME 3
- 9. NEUROMANCER by William Gibson. Identified by ender22d: "The sky above the port was the colour of television tuned to a dead channel."
- 10. MONKEY [a.k.a. JOURNEY TO THE WEST] by Wu Cheng-en. Identified by Antihero: "There was a rock that since the creation of the world had been worked upon by the pure essences of Heaven and the fine savours of Earth, the vigour of sunshine and the grace of moonlight, till at last it became magically pregnant and one day split open, giving birth to a stone egg about as big as a playing ball."
- 11. THE STARS MY DESTINATION [a.k.a. TIGER, TIGER] by Alfred Bester. Contirbuted by Jim, identified by bertie: "He was one hundred and seventy days dying and not yet dead."
- 12. THE LONG, DARK TEATIME OF THE SOUL by Douglas Adams. Contributed by Jim, identified by Antihero: "It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on earth has ever produced the expression, 'as pretty as an airport'."
- 13. THE PRINCESS BRIDE by William Golding. Contributed by Jim, identified by Nadine: "This is my favorite book in all the world, though I have never read it."
- 14. TOWING JEHOVAH by James Morrow. Contributed by Jim, identified by bertie after a hint from kbuxton: "The irreducible strangeness of the universe was first made manifest to Anthony Van Horne on his fiftieth birthday, when a despondent angel named Raphael, a being with luminous white wings and a halo that blinked on and off like a neon quoit, appeared and told him of the days to come."
- 15. Rn: THE MEMOIRS OF RICHARD NIXON by Richard Nixon. Contributed by sk, identified by lbangs: "I was born in a house my father built."
- 16. COIN LOCKER BABIES by Ryu Murakami. Contributed by kbuxton, identified by bertie after a hint: "The woman pushed on the baby's stomach and sucked its penis into her mouth; it was thinner than the American menthols she smoked and a bit slimy, like raw fish."
- 17. DESOLATION ROAD by Ian McDonald. Contributed by kbuxton, identified by lbangs: "For three days Dr.Alimantando had followed the green-person across the desert."
- 18. HOGFATHER by Terry Pratchett. Contributed by kbuxton, identifed by lbangs: "Everything starts somewhere, although many physicists disagree."
- 19. 1984 by George Orwell. Contributed by anonymous, identified by jenhowel: "It was a bright cold day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen."
- 20. A CLOCKWORK ORANGE by Anthony Burgess. Contributed by anonymous, identified by bertie: "What's it going to be then, eh?"
- 21. Unidentified: "Jack was naked, and it was night, and cold." Contributed by kbuxton.
- 22. GEEK LOVE by Katherine Dunn. Contributed by kbuxton, identified by tallus: "'When your mama was the geek, my dreamlets,' Papa would say, 'she made the nipping off of noggins such a crystal mystery that the hens themselves yearned toward her, waltzing around her, hypnotised with longing. 'Spread your lips, sweet Lil,' they'd cluck, 'and show us your choppers.''"
- 23. THE NEW LIFE by Orhan Pamuk. Contributed by kbuxton, identifed by lbangs: "I read a book one day and my whole life was changed."
- 24. ISLAND OF THE SEQUINED LOVE NUN by Christopher Moore. Contributed by kbuxton, identified by lbangs: "Tucker Case awoke to find himself hanging from a breadfruit tree by a coconut fiber rope."
- 25. NOTES FROM THE UNDERGROUND by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Contributed by jenhowel, identified by bertie after a hint: "I am a sick man...I am a spiteful man. I am an unattractive man. I believe my liver is diseased."
- 26. THE LIBRARY OF BABEL by Jorge Luis Borges. Identified by kbuxton: "The universe (which others call the Library) is composed of an indefinite and perhaps infinite number of hexagonal galleries, with vast air shafts between, surrounded by very low railings."
- 27. RITA HAYWORTH AND SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION by Stephen King. Identified by kbuxton after a very strong hint from jenhowel: "There's a guy like me in every state and federal prison in America, I guess - I'm the guy who can get it for you."
- 28. HYPERION by Dan Simmons. Identified by anonymous: "The Hegemony Consul sat on the balcony of his ebony spaceship and played Rachmaninoff's Prelude in C-sharp Minor on an ancient but well-maintained Steinway while great, green, saurian things surged and bellowed in the swamps below."
- 29. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Jane Austen. Identified by Jim: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."
- 30. HIGH-RISE by J.G.Ballard. Identified by tallus: "Later, as he sat on his balcony eating the dog, Dr Robert Laing reflected on the unusual events that had taken place within this huge apartment building during the previous three months."
- 31. THE LIFE AND OPINIONS OF TRISTRAM SHANDY, GENTLEMAN by Laurence Sterne. Identified by lbangs: "I wish either my father or my mother, or indeed both of them, as they were in duty both equally bound to it, had minded what they were about when they begot me; had they duly considered how much depended upon what they were then doing...".
- 32. PICTURE THIS by Joseph Heller. Contributed by Jim, identified by cmonster: "Aristotle contemplating the bust of Homer thought often of Socrates while Rembrandt dressed him with paint in a white Renaissance surplice and a medieval black robe and encased him in shadows."
- 33. THE SNOWS OF KILIMANJARO by Ernest Hemingway. Contributed by ender22d, identified by lbangs: "'The marvellous thing is that it's painless,' he said, 'That's how you know when it starts.'"
- 34. THE SECRET LIFE OF SALVADOR DALI by Salvador Dali. Contributed by jenhowel, identified by bertie after a close guess by lbangs and a hint: "At the age of six I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napoleon. And my ambition has been growing steadily ever since."
- 35. 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY by Arthur C.Clarke. Identified by Antihero: "The drought had lasted now for ten million years, and the reign of the terrible lizards was long since over."
All readers are challenged to identify any of the unidentified opening lines. Also, you are welcome to issue opening line challenges of your own, which might or might not be permanently added to the list, depending upon my whim. However, PLEASE NOTE:
- IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE CHALLENGER TO CHECK BACK REGULARLY TO SEE IF ANYONE HAS ANSWERED CORRECTLY, AS IT IS OFTEN NOT POSSIBLE FOR ME TO VERIFY THE CORRECTNESS OF AN ANSWER.
- ANONYMOUS CHALLENGES WILL NO LONGER BE PLACED ON THE LIST.
ALSO PLEASE NOTE THAT CHALLENGES AFTER NUMBER 35 ARE LISTED ON THIS LIST, VOLUME TWO OF THE PRESENT LIST.
For more about how to play see the ****SPECIAL POST**** below.