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BOOKS (FIRST LINES)
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[ Also see Books Books (Last Lines) Books (Quotes) Quotations ]

Strether's first question, when he reached the hotel, was about his friend; yet on his learning that Waymarsh was apparently not to arrive till evening he was not wholly disconnected.
      - Henry James, Jr., The Ambassadors [1903]

On a brilliant day in May, in the year 1868, a gentleman was reclining at his ease on the great circular divan which at that period occupied the centre of the Salon Carre, in the Museum of the Louvre.
      - Henry James, Jr., The American [1877]

Save when it happened to rain Vanderbank always walked home, but he usually took a hansom when the rain was moderate and adopted the preference of the philosopher when it was heavy. On this occasion he therefore recognized, as the servant opened the door, a congruity between the weather and the 'four-wheeler' that, in the empty street, under the glazed radiance, waited and trickled and blackly glittered.
      - Henry James, Jr., The Awkward Age [1899] (ch. 1)

"Olive will come down in about ten minutes; she told me to tell you that."
      - Henry James, Jr., The Bostonians [1886]

The Prince had always liked his London, when it had come to him; he was one of the modern Romans who find by the Thames a more convincing image of the truth of the ancient state than any they have left by the Tiber.
      - Henry James, Jr., The Golden Bowl [1904]

"No, my lord," Banks had replied, "no stranger has yet arrived. But I'll see if any one has come in--or who has."
      - Henry James, Jr., The Outcry [1911]

Under certain circumstances there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.
      - Henry James, Jr., The Portrait of a Lady [1881]

"Oh yes, I daresay I can find the child, if you would like to see him," Miss Pynsent said; she had a fluttering wish to assent to every suggestion made by her visitor, whom she regarded as a high and rather terrible personage.
      - Henry James, Jr., The Princess Casamassima [1886]

She waited, Kate Croy, for her father to come in, but he kept her unconscionably, and there were moments at which she showed herself, in the glass over the mantel, a face positively pale with the irritation that had brought her to the point of going away without sight of him.
      - Henry James, Jr., The Wings of the Dove [1902]

There was something about the coast of Dunnet which made it seem more attractive than other maritime villages of eastern Maine.
      - Sarah Orne Jewett,
        The Country of the Pointed Firs [1896]

The day was Thursday; the month, October, rushing to its close; and the battered alarm-clock on the red mantel stood at precisely one o'clock.
      - Owen McMahon Johnson, The Salamander [1914]
         (ch. 1)

The valley lay like a ribbon thrown into the midst of the encompassing hills. The grass which grew there was soft and fine and abundant; the trees which sprang from its dark, rich mould were tall and great of girth. A bright stream flashed through it, and the sunshine fell warm upon the grass and changed the tassels of the maize into golden plumes.
      - Mary Johnston, Audrey [1901] (ch. 1)

The tobacco-roller and his son pitched their camp beneath a gum tree upon the edge of the wood.
      - Mary Johnston, Lewis Rand [1908]

But if we return not from our adventure," ended Sir Mortimer, "if the sea claims us, and upon his sandy floor, amid his Armida gardens, the silver-singing mermaiden marvel at that wreckage which was once a tall ship and at those bone which once were animate,--if strange islands know our resting-place, sunk for evermore in huge and most unkindly forests,--if, being but pawns in a mighty game, we are lost or changed, happy, however, in that the white hand of our Queen hath touched us, giving thereby
  consecration to our else unworthiness,--if we find no gold, nor take one ship of Spain, nor any city treasure-stored,--if we suffer a myriad sort of sorrows and at the last we perish miserably--"
      - Mary Johnston, Sir Mortimer [1904] (ch. 1)

On this wintry day, cold and sunny, the small town breathed hard in its excitement. It might have climbed rapidly from a lower land, so heightened now were its pulses, so light and rare the air it drank, so raised its mood, so wide, so very wide the opening prospect. Old red-brick houses, old box-planted gardens, old high, leafless trees, out it looked from its place between the mountain ranges. Its point of view, its position in space, had each its value--whether a lesser value or a greater value than other points and positions only the Judge of all can determine. The little town tried to see clearly and to act rightly. If, in this time so troubled, so obscured by mounting clouds, so tossed by winds of passion and of prejudice, it felt the proudest assurance that it was doing both, at least that self-infatuation was shared all around the compass.
      - Mary Johnston, The Long Roll [1911] (ch. 1)

The work of the day being over, I say down upon my doorstep, pipe in hand, to rest awhile in the cool of the evening.
      - Mary Johnston, To Have and to Hold [1900]

Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo. . . .
      - James Joyce,
        A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man [1916]

riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodious vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.
      - James Joyce, Finnegans Wake [1939]

Lily, the caretaker's daughter, was literally run off her feet. Hardly had she brought one gentleman into the little pantry behind the office on the ground floor and helped him off with his overcoat, than the wheezy hall-door bell clanged again and she had to scamper along the bare hallway to let in another guest. It was well for her she had not to attend to the ladies also.
      - James Joyce, The Dead [1914],
        a short story from The Dubliners

Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed. A yellow dressinggown, ungirdled, was sustained gently behind him by the mild morning air. He held the bowl aloft and intoned: ----Introibo ad altare Dei.
      - James Joyce, Ulysses [1922]

"It's a remarkable piece of apparatus," said the officer to the explorer and surveyed with a certain air of admiration the apparatus which was after all quite familiar to him. The explorer seemed to have accepted merely out of politeness the Commandant's invitation to witness the execution of a soldier condemned to death for disobedience and insulting behavior to a superior.
      - Franz Kafka, In the Penal Colony [1919],
        a short story, (Willa and Edwin Muir translation)

It was late in the evening when K. arrived. The village was deep in snow. The Castle hill has hidden, veiled in mist and darkness, nor was there even a glimmer of light to show that a castle was there. On the wooden bridge leading from the main road to the village, K. stood for a long time gazing into the illusory emptiness above him.
      - Franz Kafka, The Castle [1926] (ch. 1),
        (Willa and Edwin Muir translation)

As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.
      - Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis [1915] (ch. I),
        a short story

Someone must have traduced Joseph K., for without having done anything wrong he was arrested one fine morning.
      - Franz Kafka, The Trial [1925]

Somebody must have been telling lies about Joseph K., for without having done anything wrong he was arrested one fine morning.
      - Franz Kafka, The Trial [1925] (ch. 1)


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