Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Opening Paragraphs

There was an additional delay in posting Bytes in the last day or so in that I have swapped to a new laptop and everything was being transferred from the old one. I am having to reset various items so be patient with any glitches, readers.

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Today's Bytes consists of 10 opening paragraphs from books. The sources are at the end. See how many you get right . . .

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1.

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 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.

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2.

If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it. In the first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second place, my parents would have about two haemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them.

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3.

The boy with the fair hair lowered himself down the last few feet of rock and began to pick his way towards the lagoon,. Though he had taken off his school sweater and trailed it now from one hand, his grey shirt stuck to him and his hair was plastered to his forehead. All round him the long scar smashed among the creepers and broken trunks was a bath of heat. He was clambering heavily among the creepers when a bird, a vision of red and yellow, flashed upwards with a witch-like cry; and this cry was echoed by another.

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4.

Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically. The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins, we start to build up new little habitats, to have new little hopes. It is rather hard work: there is now no smooth road into the future: but we go round, or scramble over the obstacles. We've got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen.

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5.

Call me Ishmael. Some years ago - never mind how long precisely - having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen, and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me knocking peoples hats off-then I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings toward the ocean with me.

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6.

I scowl with frustration at myself in the mirror. Damn my hair – it just won’t behave, and damn Katherine Kavanagh for being ill and subjecting me to this ordeal. I should be studying for my final exams, which are next week, yet here I am trying to brush my hair into submission. I must not sleep with it wet. I must not sleep with it wet. Reciting this mantra several times, I attempt, once more, to bring it under control with the brush. I roll my eyes in exasperation and gaze at the pale, brown-haired girl with blue eyes too big for her face staring back at me, and give up. My only option is to restrain my wayward hair in a ponytail and hope that I look semi-presentable.

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7.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife. However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered as the rightful property of someone or other of their daughters.

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8.

In the name of God, who is abundant in mercy and compassion! Praise be to God, the Lord of the universe, the most merciful and compassionate, the Sovereign of the day of judgment. Thee alone we worship, and from Thee alone we seek help. Guide us to the right path—the path of them to whom Thou hast been gracious—not of them with whom Thou art angry, nor of them who have gone astray. Amen. 

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9.

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. Winston Smith, his chin nuzzled into his breast in an effort to escape the vile wind, slipped quickly through the glass doors of Victory Mansions, though not quickly enough to prevent a swirl of gritty dust from entering along with him.

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10.

Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. They were the last people you’d expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they just didn’t hold with such nonsense.



1. "A Tale of Two Cities" by Charles Dickens (1859) 


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2. "The Catcher in the Rye" by J. D. Salinger (1951)


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3. "Lord of the Flies" by William Golding (1954)


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4. "Lady Chatterley's Lover" by D. H. Lawrence (1928)


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5. "Moby Dick" by Herman Melville (1851)


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6. “Fifty Shades of Grey” by E L James (2011)


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7. "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen (1813)


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8. The Koran


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9. "1984" by George Orwell (1949)


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10. "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" by J K Rowling (1997)



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