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Twenty Best Opening Sentences In Literature

The first line of a book is for many writers the most important one. Very often, the first sentence in a novel gives us the feeling that it is too late to put the book down and we will be losers of we stop exploring. The first sentence is in many novels an invitation to enter into the fictional world, and this one line intro is what will hook the readers, as Stephen King states:

An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.

Below is a compilation of twenty best opening sentences from various novels which helped shaped our world.

Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

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.

A Tale of Two Cities opening sentence

Franz Kafka, The Trial

Someone must have slandered Josef K., because one morning, without his having done anything bad, he was arrested.

The Trial Opening Sentence

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.

The great Gatsby Opening Sentence

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

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 opening sentence

George Orwell, 1984

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

John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

To the red country and part of the gray country of Oklahoma, the last rains came gently, and they did not cut the scarred earth.”

The Grapes of Wrath opening sentence

Graham Greene, The End of the Affair

A story has no beginning or end; arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead.

The End of the Affair opening sentence

Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

You don’t know about me, without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, but that ain’t no matter.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Opening Sentence

Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.

One Hundred Years of Solitude opening sentence

Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea

He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish.

V.S. Naipaul, The Mimic Men

When I first came to London, shortly after the end of the war, I found myself after a few days in a boarding house, called a private hotel, in the Kensington High Street area.

Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The idea of eternal return is a mysterious one, and Nietzsche has often perplexed other philosophers with it: to think that everything recurs as we once experienced it, and that the recurrence itself recurs ad infinitum!

The Unbearable Lightness of Being opening sentence

James Baldwin, Go Tell It On the Mountain

Everyone had always said that John would be a preacher when he grew up, just like his father. It had been said so often that John, without ever thinking about it, had come to believe it himself.

Go Tell It On the Mountain opening sentence

J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

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.

The Catcher in the Rye opening sentence

L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between

The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.

The Go-Between opening sentence

Mario Vargas Llosa, The Storyteller

I came to Firenze to forget Peru and the Peruvians for a while, and suddenly my unfortunate country forced itself upon me this morning in the most unexpected way.

The Storyteller Opening Sentence

Hanif Kureishi, The Buddha of Suburbia

My name is Karim Amir, and I am an Englishman born and bred, almost.

Don DeLillo, The Falling Man

It was not a street anymore but a world, a time and space of falling ash and near night

Don DeLillo, The Falling Man Opening Sentence

Alan Paton, Cry, The Beloved Country

There is a lovely road that runs from Ixopo into the hills.

Cry my beloved country opening sentence

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