Top 10 Dickens’s Opening Lines

Some believe that there are few things which are more important in a novel than its opening line, especially since it sets the tone for the rest of a book. Charles Dickens excelled in crafting a memorable opening line, and I especially appreciate those of his creations that have humour/irony in them, which contrast things or introduce curious facts. Below are my ranked personal favourites.

I. A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

II. Dombey and Son: “Dombey sat in the corner of the darkened room in the great arm-chair by the bedside, and Son lay tucked up warm in a little basket bedstead, carefully disposed on a low settee immediately in front of the fire and close to it, as if his constitution were analogous to that of a muffin, and it was essential to toast him brown while he was very new.”

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