Friday, May 11, 2012

First Line Friday

Today, I am going to pull a classic first line from a classic book, and to do so, we're digging deeper into history than we ever have for First Line Friday . . . clear back to 1605 and Miguel De Cervantes' novel Don Quixote De La Mancha.

I've always loved this first line. It's timeless.  It's completely functional even 400 years later:

"En un lugar de la Mancha, de cuyo nombre no quiero acordarme, no ha mucho tiempo que vivia un hidalgo do los de lanza en astillero, adarga antigua, rocin flaco y galgo corredor."

OR, in one of my preferred English translations:

"Domiciled in a village of La Mancha, the name of which I purposefully omit, there lived, not long ago, one of those gentlemen who usually keep a lance upon a rack, an old target, a lean horse, and a greyhound for coursing."

To me, the Spanish version is far superior to any English version which I have found.  The English versions seem burdened and lacking in flow.  But even in English, I have an affinity toward this first line that has survived centuries.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting. Here's how my (as yet unread) translation goes:

    "At a village of La Mancha, whose name I do not wish to remember, there lived a little while ago one of those gentlemen who are wont to keep a lance in the rack, an old buckler, a lean horse and a swift greyhound."

    Either way I think it's a decent opening. Yes, it's basically just "There was once a man in a nameless village" but then he adds those intriguing details that tell you this is no ordinary man.

    Certainly good enough for 1605, but I also think it still works today.