Monday, March 11, 2013
First sentence posts!
A friend of mine called attention to a very nice review from Tor which made mention of the series of first-sentence analyses I've been doing, and it occurs to me that some people may click over in search of them. My blog in its current form is not brilliantly easy to navigate - I've got someone working on that, actually - but I thought it might be a courtesy to any new viewers to make the first sentence posts a bit easier to find. I'm currently working on the next one, which will be Middlemarch, but till then, consider this an ad-hoc archive page:
So, in order of publication:
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Watership Down by Richard Adams
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Sourcery and Pyramids by Terry Pratchett
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
The Trial by Franz Kafka
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Five Children and It by E. Nesbit
The Collector by John Fowles
I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga
Waiting For the Barbarians by J.M. Coetzee
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
The Little Friend by Donna Tartt
Stalky and Co by Rudyard Kipling
Frost in May by Antonia White
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller
Middlemarch by George Eliot
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
Brighton Rock by Graham Greene
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
I, Claudius by Robert Graves
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling
Paul Clifford by Edward Bulwer-Lytton
Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
Persuasion by Jane Austen
The Visit of the Royal Physician by Per Olov Enquist (trs Tiina Nunally)
I take requests, so if anyone has a particular first sentence they'd like to see analysed, mention it in the comment threads. Some requests I do, some I don't; my criteria are twofold.
First, having tried to do it with books I haven't read and found I churned out worse analyses in consequence, I'm less likely to tackle a book that I haven't read already. I have a book to rewrite and a toddler to raise, so reading an entire book just for one of these posts is unlikely to happen unless it's a book I've been meaning to read for my own satisfaction. So if someone requests a book, I haven't read it and I don't feel a burning desire to do so, there won't be much I can say.
Second, I don't analyse first sentences or books that I don't think are good; I'm not interested in scoring cheap points off bad writers when there are so many good writers I could be talking about instead. Sometimes there are things to be said about the implications of poor work, and I've done that now and again here, but when it comes to close analysis I want to talk about the good stuff. At some point in the future I might try analysing what's wrong with some bad prose, but in that case I'll be favouring dead authors as I have no desire to take pot shots at the living either. The upshot is that if you request a book by a living author and it's a book I don't like or admire, chances are I won't do that one either.
So, if you came over from Tor, hello and welcome, and I hope you enjoy this series.
One of Edward St. Aubyn's Patrick Melrose novels? Just read them, and would be interested in your call.
Enjoying these! (Here from tor.com.) Left a lengthy and probably boring comment on 100 Years of Solitude.
Suggestion... hm... how about some Mary Renault? The Persian Boy, perhaps.
I've read and fallen in love with Haruki Murakami.
It has to break through the language, but considering you analized Garcia Marquez, I guess, it shouldn't be a problem.
Excellent work you've been doing.
My personal favorite, from Heinlein's The Cat Who Walks Through Walls:
"'We need you to kill a man.'"
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