Best First Lines from Novels

Eliza | 05 - 20 - 2022
Famous first lines in novels

Reading can expand your knowledge and open hidden doors of your mind that you didn’t know existed. But it is always the first few lines of any book that play the most crucial role of getting one to read it. An author’s literary genius shines in those make or break lines.

The opening lines of a book have the most important task, yet the briefest window to immerse the readers. It doesn’t make it easier that there are millions of books to read and thousands that get published every week. With that in mind, we have curated a list of some great opening lines in novels.

Check out the best first lines from novels that you might have read or heard at least once. 

Who Wrote “Catch 22”?
  • A. Jane Austen
  • B. Joseph Heller
  • C. Charles Dickens
  • D. Rudyard Kipling

Pride and Prejudice (1813)

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

  • Jane Austen

The line is from one of the most popular novels in the English language, “Pride and Prejudice”. Jane Austen called this brilliant work “her own darling child” and its vivacious heroine, Elizabeth Bennet, “as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print.” The novel is full of civilized sparring between Elizabeth and proud Mr Darcy. Set in Regency England, the book is a testament to Austen’s radiant wit.

A Tale of Two Cities (1859)

“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.

  • Charles Dickens

“A Tale of Two Cities” is a famous historical novel by Charles Dickens, set against the violent upheaval of the French Revolution. Dickens starts the story with a vision that human opulence cannot be matched with human misery. The most popular of Dickens’ works, the book deals with the major themes of duality, revolution, and resurrection.

Moby-Dick (1851)

“Call me Ishmael.”

  • Herman Melville

Moby-Dick, one the  greatest works of imagination in literary history, is the story of Captain Ahab pursuing a war against a creature as vast and dangerous and unknowable as the sea itself, a white whale—Moby Dick. The first line of the book is classic because the narrator just wants the people to know his name and his story.

Catch 22 (1961)

“It was love at first sight.”

  • Joseph Heller

This is one of the most famous lines from the book “Catch 22.” Joseph Heller wrote the novel and the entire story is about Captain John Yossarian who is a bombardier in the US Army Air Forces. Often cited as one of the most important novels of the twentieth century, “Catch 22” explains the insanity of war and military experiences of Yossarian and his battalions who attempt to be stable in fulfilling their service responsibilities so that they may return home.

The Dick Gibson Show (1971)

“When Dick Gibson was a little boy he was not Dick Gibson”

  • Stanley Elkin

Stanley Elkin’s “The Dick Gibson Show” hinted at America’s growth with the implications of Dick Gibson’s growth. The story tells how a little becomes Dick Gibson both spiritually and legally. It alludes to America’s growth from the great depression to the Vietnam war. 

Bottom Line

The above quotes are the top 5 first lines from novels that are evergreen. Try reading these novels once and you will experience the authors’ perception and approach to the story. 

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