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Famous First Lines?
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Famous First Lines?

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Much like the first impression of a person, the first line of a book can tell you almost everything you need to know about your imminent literary journey. What novels have captivated you with a single sentence? For extra credit, go ahead...

Much like the first impression of a person, the first line of a book can tell you almost everything you need to know about your imminent literary journey. What novels have captivated you with a single sentence?

For extra credit, go ahead and choose a sound or video as the accompanying media that you think conveys the tone of the opening sentence, or how you feel when reading it.
Allyson Gronowitz
Feb 24, 2015
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Ivan Turgenev - Sketches From A Hunter's Album, 1852 [Russian literature]
Ericka

Turgenev's pastoral: sketches of rustic life in Russia

"Whoever has happened to travel from Bolkhov County into the Zhizdra region will no doubt have been struck by the sharp differences between the nature of the people in the Orlov Province and those in Kaluga."

And so begins Ivan Turgenev's Sketches From A Hunter's Album, Turgenev's literary journey into the Russian countryside. If you want to know where Hemingway got his spiel and shtick, start here. Of course, Hemingway was able to get away with his appropriation of Turgenev because Turgenev is lesser known and lower on the list of Russian authors from a Western standpoint. Most people, it is safe to say, would probably check for Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Tolstoy, Nabokov, or Bulgakov before getting a Turgenev book. I've also seen Sketches listed as A Sportsman's Notebook and A Sportsman's Sketches -- most editions are printed with the Sketches From A Hunter's Album title. The first line of the first story of the book sets up class/caste distinctions in mid 19th Century Russia, and the book is kind of an exposé of sorts related to what Russian life is really like away from the big cities like Moscow. Nicholas I, who was emperor until 1855, reigned during the entire time of Turgenev's publishing of these stories. The stories were originally serialized and then published together in 1852. Another important book by Turgenev is Fathers and Sons. And now I wish I could have a plate of pelmeni...
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