In honor of Charles Dickens' 200th birthday, I'd like to offer some opening lines from his works. The man was a master architect of The Sentence and ought to be appreciated as much for his stylish craftmanship as for his ability to devise tales which are simultaneously insightful, intriguing, and delightful. I have made it my goal to finish reading all of his novels this year. That's a LOT of novels!
That punctual servant of all work, the sun, had just risen, and begun to strike a light on the morning of the thirteenth of May, one thousand eight hundred and twenty-seven, when Mr. Samuel Pickwick burst like another sun from his slumbers, threw open his chamber window, and looked out upon the world beneath. (Pickwick Papers)
Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. (David Copperfield)
Although I am an old man, night is generally my time for walking. (The Old Curiosity Shop)
There were a king with a large jaw and a queen with a plain face on the throne of England; there were a king with a large jaw and a queen with a fair face on the throne of France. In both countries it was clearer than crystal to the lords of the State preserves of loaves and fishes, that things in general were settled forever. (A Tale of Two Cities)
Never can there come fog too thick, never can there come mud and mire too deep, to assort with the groping and floundering condition which this High Court of Chancery, most pestilent of hoary sinners, holds, this day, in the sight of heaven and earth. (Bleak House)
And of course, my all-time favorite:
There once lived, in a sequestered part of the county of Devonshire, one Mr. Godfrey Nickleby: a worthy gentleman, who, taking into his head rather late in life that he must get married, and not being young enough or rich enough to aspire to the hand of a lady of fortune, had wedded an old flame out of mere attachment, who in her turn had taken him for the same reasons. Thus two people who cannot afford to play cards for money, sometimes sit down to a quiet game for love. (Nicholas Nickleby)
I, for one, am thankful that he shared his gift with the world! Happy birthday, Mr. Dickens, Sir.