Friday, 19 September 2014

Lines From Literature

I am currently reading The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers, a classic novel set mostly on board a small yacht off the coast of Germany, and I came across this wonderful sentence:

"After much shaking of scaly hands, we sculled back to the Dulcibella, where she slept in a bed of tremulous stars."

This set me thinking about other such beautiful and fantastic lines that I have come across. So I have compiled a few of my favourites for you to enjoy!

There are the superb opening paragraphs of Dickens' novels, the best of which, I believe belongs to Great Expectations:

"My father's family name being Pirrip, and my Christian name being Philip, my infant tongue could make of both names nothing longer or more explicit than Pip. So, I called myself Pip, and came to be called Pip."

Then there are those that carry the essence of a whole book, such as that in Catch 22 by Joseph Heller:

"Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle. "That's some catch, that Catch-22," he observed.

Or in simpler terms:

"He was going to live forever, or die in the attempt."
There are wise words, such as this line from Tolstoy's War and Peace:
"We can know only that we know nothing, and that is the highest degree of human wisdom"
And then there are those when I just stop reading to delight in the beauty of the language.
John Steinbeck opens The Grapes of Wrath with:
"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."
But my favourite comes from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald:
"In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars."

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