Skip to main content

Monday Quiz: First Lines of Famous Books

All of these quotations come from famous novels--most of them English and American. The oldest was published in the late 18th century; the most recent, in 1999. Some I purposely made easy, others might take more effort. The rules are, you're allowed to look in books you own, but you're not allowed to look these quotations up online. Anyone who gets the extra credit is a hero in my book. For fun, see how many of them you can get:

1. “While the present century was in its teens, and on one sunshiny morning in June, there drove up to the great iron gate of Miss Pinkerton’s academy for ladies, on Chiswick Mall, a large family coach, with two fat horses in blazing harness, driven by a fat coachman in a three-cornered hat and wig, at the rate of four miles an hour.”

2. “There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.”

3. “This is the story of what a Woman’s patience can endure, and what a Man’s resolution can achieve.”

4. “Serene was a word you could put to Brooklyn, New York.”

5. “When Caroline Meeber boarded the afternoon train to Chicago, her total outfit consisted of a small trunk, a cheap imitation alligator-skin satchel, a small lunch in a paper box, a scrap of paper with her sister’s address in Chicago, and four dollars in money.”

6. “Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.”

7. “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”

8. “Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically.”

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

10. “Except for the Marabar Caves—and they are twenty miles off—the city of Chandrapore presents nothing extraordinary.”

11. “We were in study hall when the headmaster walked in, followed by a new boy not wearing a school uniform, and by a janitor carrying a large desk.”

12. “Late in the afternoon of a chilly day in February, two gentlemen were sitting alone over their wine, in a well-furnished dining parlor, in the town of P-----, in Kentucky.”

13. “It was four o’clock when the ceremony was over and the carriages began to arrive.”

14. “There is a photograph in existence of Aunt Sadie and her six children sitting round the tea-table at Alconleigh.”

15. “Early in the morning, late in the century, Cricklewood, Broadway. At 0627 hours on January 1, 1975, Alfred Archibald Jones was dressed in corduroy and sat in a fume-filled Cavalier Musketeer Estate facedown on the steering wheel, hoping the judgment would not be too heavy upon him.”

16. “1801—I have just returned from a visit to my landlord—the solitary neighbour I shall be troubled with.”

17. “I first met Dean not long after my wife and I split up.”

18. It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.”

19. “The artist is the creator of beautiful things.”

20. “Lady Howard to the Rev. Mr. Villars: Can there, my good Sir, be any thing more painful to a friendly mind, than a necessity of communicating disagreeable intelligence?”

Extra credit: “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.”


Serena said…
#2: Jane Eyre
#4: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
#6: One Hundred Years of Solitude
#7: Rebecca
#9: Pride and prejudice (my favorite book)
#11: Madam Bovary
#16: Wuthering Heights
#19 Picture of Dorian Grey (oscar wilde another of my favorites)

I don't know any of the others or the extra credit.
2 - Jane Eyre
6 - One Hundred Years of Solitude
7 - Rebecca
9 - Pride and Prejudice
18 - The Bell Jar
Anonymous said…
#1 Vanity Fair
#2 Jane Eyre
#3 The Woman in White (ha...I just got this book...flipped through the first chapter)
#6 100 Years of Solitude
#8 Lady Chatterley's Lover (a favorite)
#9 Pride and Prejudice
#11 Madame Bovary
#12 Uncle Tom's Cabin (??)
#13 The Jungle??
#17 On The Road
#19 Picture of Dorian Grey

Extra Credit is one of my all-time favorite book The Go_between by L.P. Hartley
# 15: White Teeth

OMG, I thought that n.16 was "The turn of the screw" but I just realized from the other comments that it's "Wuthering Heights"... And I consider it one of my favourite novels... I should totally read it again! :D

Popular posts from this blog

Read in 2017

January: 1. London: the Novel, by Edward Rutherfurd 2. Notes from a Small Island, by Bill Bryson 3. A Very English Scandal, by John Preston 4. Imagined London, by Anna Quindlen 5. The Black Dahlia, by James Ellroy 6. In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote February 1. Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen 2. The Girls of Slender Means, by Muriel Spark 3. Patience, by John Coates 4. Into the Whirlwind, by Eugenia Ginzburg 5. The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James 6. Few Eggs and No Oranges, by Vere Hodgson 7. Vittoria Cottage, by DE Stevenson March: 1. The Exiles Return, by Elizabeth de Waal 2. Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen 3. The Death of the Heart, by Elizabeth Bowen 4. The Buccaneers, by Edith Wharton 5. The Death of the Heart, by Elizabeth Bowen 6. White Teeth, by Zadie Smith April: 1. The Heat of the Day, by Elizabeth Bowen 2. The Two Mrs. Abbotts, by DE Stevenson 3. The Road to Little Dribbling, by Bill Bryson May: 1. London War Notes, by Mollie Panter-Dow

Review: Jane Austen's Letters, ed. by Deirdre Le Faye

Pages: 667 Original date of publication: 2011 My copy:   2011 (Oxford University Press) Why I decided to read: How I acquired my copy:, April 2013 This is a compilation of many of Jane Austen’s letters, most of them sent to her sister Cassandra between 1796 and 1817, the year of her death. Although many of Austen’s letters were destroyed by her sister in order to preserve the family reputation, the collection contains over 160 letters in which Austen gives her sister details about her life in Chawton—as well as giving us a tantalizing glimpse of what was going through her mind as she was writing her novels (especially the novel that was to become Pride and Prejudice , First Impressions ). There are other letters here, too, giving advice to her niece and professional correspondence to publishers—as well as a couple of letters that were written by Cassandra Austen after Jane’s death. To the sisters, the letters acted in the way that phone calls do today; A

Review: The Far Cry, by Emma Smith

Pages: 324 Original date of publication: 1949 My edition: 2007 (Persephone) Why I decided to read: It’s been on my TBR pile since I purchased it six months ago How I acquired my copy: from the Persephone shop, September 2009 The Far Cry was inspired by the author’s experiences in India. In 1945, at the age of 21, Emma Smith (who describes herself as “a green young woman” in her preface to this edition) traveled to India with a film production crew as a junior script writer/gopher. While she was there, Smith kept a journal of her experiences and thoughts to detail her “magical Cinderella-like transformation” into a worldlier person. In the preface of the novel, Emma Smith writes brilliantly about what kind of impact her travels to India had upon her, a first-time visitor. What she wrote in her journal went largely into the writing of this novel; and the stronger it is for it, I think, because this is an absolutely stunning book. When Mr. Digby’s ex wife returns from Amer