Friday, March 16, 2012

First Line Friday!

Charles Dickens wrote one of the most recognizable first lines of all time when he penned the opening to 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, 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 – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
 But as the cartoon below points out, one has to wonder if it would cut the muster in our day. What do you think?


  1. Seven pairs of opposites in the first sentence? Talk about beating a dead horse. That's a little repetitive for my taste.

  2. I think I'm inclined to agree with you, Joel.

    If he stopped at the part people actually remember and quote, he's got himself an intriguing opening. But drawing it out as he does saps my patience as a reader.

  3. I agree. In 2012, this first line would automatically kill whatever story it preceded. Times have changed.