Saturday, January 12, 2008

How many can you think up?

When I was getting Things 3 & 4 in bed tonight, I lay there thinking of what I could be doing. I usually arrange my "to-do" list for the evening, or think about all of the stuff I have to do, or something equally karmically useless.

On really good nights, I breathe deeply and smell my children's hair.

But not tonight. Tonight, I wondered how many opening lines of novels or plays I could remember. I came up with only four, not counting the vast number of children's stories I have completely memorized (how many of you can still recite Goodnight Moon?):

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

(This, technically, is just the opening line of a section of a book) -- Mr. Leopold Bloom ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls.

Call me Ishmael.

When shall we three meet again
In thunder, lightning, or in rain?

And that's it. Pretty small potatoes for someone spending most of her life immersed in lit'rachure. Can you recognize all of them? How many opening lines live in your brain?

Oh, I'm at the arm division of another plain-vanilla-but-yummy-yarn top-down raglan sweater for Thing 3. I'm wondering if I should go back and add a few inches. There's not enough yarn to do a hood anyhow, so I'm going to have to buy more -- might as well make it with room to grow. I'd be knitting on it but there's a cat sleeping on my forearms.


cpurl17 said...

I recognized two.

These days, I can barely remember my own phone number.

Batty said...

I recognized 3. I have no idea who the innard-eating Mr. Leopold is.

But now that I think about it, I don't pay particular attention to first lines. Before I buy a book, I "read into it" - the first couple of paragraphs, then some sections out of the middle. It's one of the habits I acquired as a Classics major in college. Roman writers would pull out all the stops, all the stylistic bells and whistles in the first section of their book to hook the reader. After that, it often became less elaborate and easier to read for the non-native speaker. And now, considering the first paragraph something of an oddity is a life long habit.

Charity said...

I only recognized two, myself. More and more I'm loving the plain vanilla but yummy yarn knitting. :0)

suzee said...

"Old Marley was dead as a doornail. This must be distinctly understood or nothing wonderful can
come of the story I am going to relate."

That'd be about it.

But I can recite all of Goodnight Moon, Go Dog Go and all the lyrics of at least 10 Disney movies worth of songs. So my brain works, it's just missing good lit.

I do need another big knit project. I'm tired of socks and mitts.

amanda j said...

Where the place?

I got two. I don't think you should measure yourself by the opening lines of books/plays - you are obviously a worthwhile human being!

Plain vanilla knitting is a necessity for us mothers.

allisonmariecat said...

The Mr. Leopold has me stumped, but the other three I know.

"It was a dark and stormy night."

Morenna said...

I got one, but then I've always been horrible at memorizing quotes and a bit hazy on just what counts as "literature". I suppose that might be related to taking very few lit courses. ;-)

"It was morning, and the new sun sparkled gold across the ripples of a gentle sea."

NeedleDancer said...

Surely you remember "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times"??

But yes, though my youngest is ten already, I can still recite Goodnight Moon. Why can't large chunks of MacBeth stay in my head instead?? it's not fair.

Pancake Goddess said...

All I can come up with in my sleepy state is "Life is difficult." And for crying out loud I can't remember the title, but it's an M. Scott Peck book I read decades ago when I was deciding to grow up. Oh - it was The Road Less Traveled.

Jen said...

Oh, what a fun post!

Here's my belated response to this question, from one English teacher to another:

"If music be the food of love, play on."

"In my younger and more vulnerable years, my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since."

"You don't know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, but that ain't no matter."

Katherine said...

I'm catching up, finally. Love this post. How about "Lolita, light of my life; fire of my loins" or something like that. Hee hee! And "Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself." I think that's all I got, unless you'd like to hear some children's books. Okay, I'm way out of date so that's enough.

And thank you for reminding me of Colin Firth, by the way.