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That books and first-lines meme. - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
wemyss
wemyss
That books and first-lines meme.

‘Post the first sentences of ten of your favourite books. Have your readers guess the origins and post their own favourites in their journals.’

 

Ten be damned.  Let’s make it interesting.

 

 

  1. Captain MacWhirr, of the steamer Nan-Shan, had a physiognomy that, in the order of material appearances, was the exact counterpart of his mind: it presented no marked characteristics of firmness or stupidity; it had no pronounced characteristics whatever; it was simply ordinary, irresponsive, and unruffled. Guessed by legionseagle.
  2. (Introduction:) This book makes no pretence to be anything but a popular sketch of a great historical character who ought to be more popular.  (Chapter One:) Let me at once anticipate comment by answering to the name of that notorious character, who rushes in where even the Angels of the Angelic Doctor might fear to tread.
  3. (Preface:) Though for no other cause, yet for this; that prosperity may know that we have not loosely through silence permitted things to pass away as in a dream, there shall be for men’s information extant this much concerning the present state of the Church of God established amongst us, and their careful endeavour which would have upheld the same.  (Book I, Chapter One:) He that goeth about to persuade a multitude, that they are not so well governed as they ought to be, shall never want attentive and favourable hearers; because they know the manifold defects whereunto every kind of regiment is subject, but the secret lets and difficulties, which in public proceedings are innumerable and inevitable, they have not ordinarily the judgement to consider.
  4. In summer all right-minded boys built huts in the furze-hill behind the College – little lairs whittled out of the heart of the prickly bushes, full of stumps, odd root-ends, and spikes, but, since they were strictly forbidden, palaces of delight. Guessed by legionseagle. 
  5. (Preface:) The chief beauty of this book lies not so much in its literary style, or in the extent and usefulness of the information it conveys, as in its simple truthfulness.  (Chapter One:) There were four of us – George, and William Samuel Harris, and myself, and Montmorency. GUESSED by ink_monkey.
  6. A surging, seething, murmuring crowd of beings that are human only in name, for to the eye and ear they seem naught but savage creatures, animated by vile passions and by the lust of vengeance and of hate. Guessed by legionseagle. 
  7. It was a murky October day that the hero of our tale, Mr Sponge, or Soapey Sponge, as his good-natured friends call him, was seen mizzling along Oxford Street, wending his way to the west. GUESSED BY
  8. In the latter days of July in the year 185–, a most important question was for ten days hourly asked in the cathedral city of Barchester, and answered every hour in various ways – Who was to be the new Bishop? GUESSED, IN A DEAD HEAT BY SERVER STANDARDS, BY executrix and by clanwilliam.
  9. In the second century of the Christian Æra, the empire of Rome comprehended the fairest part of the earth, and the most civilised portion of mankind. GUESSED BY clanwilliam.
  10. (Epistle to the Reader:) I think fit to tell thee these following truths; that I did neither undertake, nor write, nor publish, and much less own, this Discourse to please myself: and, having been too easily drawn to do all to please others, as I propose not the gaining of credit by this undertaking, so I would not willingly lose any part of that to which I had a just title before I began it; and do therefore desire and hope, if I deserve not commendations, yet I may obtain pardon. (Chapter One:) Piscator. You are well overtaken, Gentlemen! Guessed by coughingbear. 
  11. The first day of term has a flavour that is all its own; a whiff of lazy days behind and a foretaste of the busy future.
  12. It must have been at some time during 1346 that word first reached Europe of strange and tragic happenings far away in the East. Guessed by legionseagle.  
  13. A Resident Magistracy in Ireland is not an easy thing to come by nowadays; neither is it  a very attractive job; yet on the evening when I first propounded the idea to the young lady who had recently consented to become Mrs Sinclair Yeates, it seemed glittering with possibilities. GUESSED, IN A DEAD HEAT BY SERVER STANDARDS, BY executrix and by clanwilliam.
  14. Sicelides Musæ, paulo maiora canamus!
  15. Hêrodotou Halikarnêsseos historiês apodexis hêde, hôs mête ta genomena ex anthrôpôn tôi chronôi exitêla genêtai, mête erga megala te kai thômasta, ta men Hellêsi ta de barbaroisi apodechthenta, aklea genêtai, ta te alla kai di' hên aitiên epolemêsan allêloisi. GUESSED BY clanwilliam. 
  16. Pantes anthrôpoi tou eidenai oregontai phusei.
  17. On the afternoon of Friday 2 June 1950, a Mr Datchery, having put his week-end bag on to a bus with the request that it be civilly ejected at an inn named ‘The Marlborough Head’, set out to walk the four miles which separate the market town of Twelford from the village of Cotten Abbas. Guessed by coughingbear. 
  18. On the Sunday after Easter – Low Sunday, Emma believed it was called – the villagers were permitted to walk in the park and woods surrounding the manor.
  19. Grant lay on his high white cot and stared at the ceiling. GUESSED BY clanwilliam.
  20. (Preface:) In July 1916, Fritz Mandelbaum, a junior officer in Austria’s Seventh Army on the Russian Front, near the river Dnjestr, was shot in the abdomen and died shortly thereafter.  (Chapter One:) On the evening of January 13, 1913, Vienna’s Bank Employees’ Club gave a Bankruptcy Ball.
  21. ‘Please, try the bison,’ said Tadeusz.  ‘Really, it’s very good.’ Guessed by coughingbear. 

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Comments
ink_monkey From: ink_monkey Date: July 22nd, 2006 03:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
(Preface:) The chief beauty of this book lies not so much in its literary style, or in the extent and usefulness of the information it conveys, as in its simple truthfulness. (Chapter One:) There were four of us – George, and William Samuel Harris, and myself, and Montmorency.

This is 'Three Men in a Boat', isn't it? I haven't got a copy nearby, but I'm certain it's either that or the sequel. At least, I think there was a sequel...
wemyss From: wemyss Date: July 22nd, 2006 04:17 pm (UTC) (Link)

Got it in one!

Well spotted.
executrix From: executrix Date: July 22nd, 2006 04:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
I am inclined to believe that (3) Is Hogg's "Confessions of a Justified Sinner" although to my shame I have never read it--based on how Robertson Davies talks about it it seems that this would be its first line and it would be a favorite of yours

(7) Surtees: Mr. Sponge's Sporting Tour
(8) Barchester Towers
(13) The Irish RM; I can't remember the authors' pseudonym or real names, just that they were a couple
(17) The Mystery of Edwin Drood
clanwilliam From: clanwilliam Date: July 22nd, 2006 04:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
13 - Somerville and Ross were the authors.
executrix From: executrix Date: July 22nd, 2006 05:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, clanwilliam!

wemyss, have you been hauling out the Innes again? I seem to remember that you flummoxed me that way before.
clanwilliam From: clanwilliam Date: July 22nd, 2006 05:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Having shamelessly Googled everything I didn't get now, (and obviously not saying what the answers are), I can say that he has not.

Interesting range - a couple I'm not familiar with but everything else strikes me as being completely Weymss territory. He's an eclectic lad.
clanwilliam From: clanwilliam Date: July 22nd, 2006 05:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Also, the terrible truth is that I had a suspicion that 1. was a Guy Gilpatric opening line...

*goes and hides in shame*
wemyss From: wemyss Date: July 22nd, 2006 06:07 pm (UTC) (Link)

Tsk, tsk.

Bad clanwilliam. Naughty, naughty.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: July 22nd, 2006 06:07 pm (UTC) (Link)

Now, really.

Would I do that?
executrix From: executrix Date: July 22nd, 2006 07:29 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Now, really.

Does a wild Writer to the Signet issue writs in the woods?
wemyss From: wemyss Date: July 22nd, 2006 07:52 pm (UTC) (Link)

Only for delict.

Ye maun see the Fiscal for mair.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: July 22nd, 2006 04:50 pm (UTC) (Link)

I'm tricksy, Precious.

3 and 17 are ringers, sorry. (Why didn't I include The Nine Tailors?)

Surtees and Trollope are correct.
clanwilliam From: clanwilliam Date: July 22nd, 2006 04:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
8 is Barchester Towers.

19 - Daughter of Time?

9 - Gibbon, Rise and Fall, etc?

13 - The Irish RM?

15 - my languages are slightly lacking, so I'm going to make a stab at Herodotus or however you spell him...
wemyss From: wemyss Date: July 22nd, 2006 04:50 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yes to all.

Clever.
From: legionseagle Date: July 22nd, 2006 06:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
1) is Typhoon, by Conrad, and 4) is Stalky and Co, by Kipling.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: July 22nd, 2006 07:06 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yes.

Yes.
From: legionseagle Date: July 22nd, 2006 06:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
And I think 6) is The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy
wemyss From: wemyss Date: July 22nd, 2006 07:06 pm (UTC) (Link)

And...

... Yes.
From: legionseagle Date: July 22nd, 2006 07:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think 12 is Ziegler's The Black Death and 18 might be Charlotte Bronte's Emma.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: July 22nd, 2006 07:52 pm (UTC) (Link)

Ziegler it is.

No 18 is another ringer, I'm afriad.
coughingbear From: coughingbear Date: July 22nd, 2006 10:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Coming in very late, and slightly the worse for wear after a birthday party, I seem to have missed almost all the ones I'd have got, except no.17, which I'm sure is Edmund Crispin's The Long Divorce.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: July 22nd, 2006 10:10 pm (UTC) (Link)

YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Finally, more Fen fen!
coughingbear From: coughingbear Date: July 22nd, 2006 10:13 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yay!

Also I'm sure I recognise the bison quote but can't immediately place it. It's not a novel, I don't think?
wemyss From: wemyss Date: July 22nd, 2006 10:14 pm (UTC) (Link)

Quite right.

Non-fiction it is.
coughingbear From: coughingbear Date: July 23rd, 2006 08:43 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Quite right.

In slightly more sober form this morning, is it Simon Schama's Landscape and Memory? A book I love, though my copy is in the office so I can't check.

Am also going to guess that no.10 is the Compleat Angler.

Certain I know no.11, but my first thought was To Serve them All My Days and I checked and it's not.

This is a lovely meme! Definitely going to do it myself.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: July 23rd, 2006 11:53 am (UTC) (Link)

Simon says...

Yes, indeed.
aillil From: aillil Date: July 23rd, 2006 02:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
15 and 16 are an eyesore, as is usual for Greek in transliteration. :) 16 sounds very familiar, but I can't place it. Not Plato, is it?
wemyss From: wemyss Date: July 23rd, 2006 02:25 pm (UTC) (Link)

Well, not everyone has Greek fonts, so I thought I'd be kind.

And, no, not Plato.
aillil From: aillil Date: July 23rd, 2006 02:35 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Well, not everyone has Greek fonts, so I thought I'd be kind.

Which ones do you use?
wemyss From: wemyss Date: July 23rd, 2006 03:02 pm (UTC) (Link)

Fonts?

SGreek, SP Ionic, Athenian.
aillil From: aillil Date: July 23rd, 2006 04:51 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Fonts?

Oh, where did you get them from?

I use SIL Galatia, but my purpose for using them is wholly different from yours I would assume. :)
wemyss From: wemyss Date: July 23rd, 2006 05:03 pm (UTC) (Link)

Can't really recall.

I do recall that Perseus has downloads.
aillil From: aillil Date: July 23rd, 2006 05:06 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Can't really recall.

What a pity. :)
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