Saturday, July 27, 2013

Best combination of a first and last line in a novel.

Phil's hydrangea

We are often asked our favorite first line.

The Atlantic Monthy just published this list.

But what about the combination of the two. My candidate for best is George Orwell's first and last line from 1984.

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”

... and the last line.

"We all loved Big Brother."

What is yours?

14 comments:

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

The first and last lines that have stayed with me are those from Charles Dickens' A TALE OF TWO CITIES. While everyone knows the first lines, the classic ends with these lines -- " "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."

pattinase (abbott) said...

I would have bet money someone picked that one. And it would be my second choice.

Charles Gramlich said...

hum, I don't think I've ever realy thought about this. Gotta give it some thought. This sounds like fun and will require me to do some research in my books, which is something I always love.

Anonymous said...

My favorite opening line is from L.P. Hartley's The Go-Between: "The past is another country; they do things differently there." Favorite closing line (this is a bit of a cheat as it's two line) is from Samuel Beckett's Malloy: "It is midnight, it is raining. It is not midnight, it is not raining," which perfectly sums up the book's theme of humans never being able to know anything. I'm also partial to Scarlett O'Hara's final words, "After all, tomorrow is another day."

Deb

Anonymous said...

Besides the opening from THE LAST GOOD KISS mentioned in the link, I like "They threw me off the hay truck about noon" (THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE) and "This is the saddest story I have ever heard" (THE GOOD SOLDIER).

Jeff M.

Richard R. said...

I thought the idea was first and last line OF THE SAME BOOK. Like Charles, I'll have to give that some thought.

pattinase (abbott) said...

yeah, it's probably too hard.

Todd Mason said...

Though the last line of 1984 is "He loved Big Brother." Rather more devastating.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I didn't understand we were supposed to select a first and last line from the same book. I think that would be very difficult--outside of Prashant's example of A Tale of Two Cities, I think it would be highly unlikely to find a book where both the first and last lines would be favorites. The Great Gatsby maybe?

Deb

Todd Mason said...

Or one where the first and last lines have nearly so much significance out of context. The first and particularly the last lines of THE DEATH MACHINE aka ROGUE MOON by Algis Budrys are utterly dependent on context for their impact.

Jerry House said...

I can't think of any favorites, but it is a fun exercise. Here are five examples taken at random:

The sudden shrill chirp of a hundred birds froze Allen in place, his hand poised to knock on the department head's door...Much better than a Bronte novel. -- VAMPIRE A GO-GO by Victor Gischler

Mary Standen, writhing against the rope that held her, though she was going mad..."He will come. That's why I brought you here." -- WITCH BANE by Robert Neill

You may recall that, some years back, I was witness to the violent demise of famous gunfighter -- lawman Clay Halser...And the hero soon discovers/he is still the man he was before. -- THE MEMOIRS OF WILD BILL HICKOK by Richard Matheson

This might possibly -- just possibly -- be the last book written about Cape Cod by a contemporary...Cape Cod -- and you love it, too. -- BLUE-WATER MEN AND OTHER CAPE CODDERS by Katharine Crosby

The question I find most difficult to answer; the one which always crops up sooner of later when the subject is mentioned, is, approximately: "But how on earth did you come to get yourself mixed up in a crazy affair like this, anyway?"...Time I suppose, will show... -- WEB by John Wyndham

David Cranmer said...

FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS with the opening "We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold." And the novel closes with "I felt like a monster reincarnation of Horatio Alger ... a Man on the Move, and just sick enough to be totally confident."

Dan_Luft said...

Tale of Two Cities was all I could remember for a while but then I remembered Moby Dick. Call me Ishmael is a wierd first line because it's so easy to forget he's there after the early chapters. But I really love the last line : "It was the devious-cruising Rachel, that in her retracing search after her missing children, only found another orphan."

Margot Kinberg said...

Interesting question, Patti. There are so many to choose from! I think I'll have to think about that one...