In July, we asked PAW readers to test their literary knowledge by identifying the Princetonians who wrote the four opening lines below. Six entrants scored a perfect four-for-four, and three prize-winners were selected at random. Congratulations to our winners, Sandy Kramer ’67, Ilana Lucas ’07, and Julie Melby.
Readers also shared their favorite opening lines, including the selection below:
“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.”
— Charles Dickens, Dombey and Son, submitted by Maria Riasanovsky *01.
“Joe Gould was an odd and penniless and unemployable little man who came to the city in 1916 and ducked and dodged and held on as hard as he could for over thirty-five years.”
— Joseph Mitchell, Joe Gould’s Secret, submitted by Julie Melby.
“It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents – except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.”
— Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford, submitted by Sandy Kramer ’67.
“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”
— George Orwell, 1984, submitted by Brooks Schleifer-McGill.
Take the quiz: Test your literary knowledge by identifying the Princetonians who wrote these opening lines.
1. “The first thing they always did was run you.”
A. Paradise, by professor emerita Toni Morrison
B. Moneyball, by Michael Lewis ’82
C. Uncommon Carriers, by journalism professor John McPhee ’53
2. “I’m told that even decorated soldiers’ last words are often calling for ‘Mommy.’ ”
A. My Sister’s Keeper, by Jodi Picoult ’87
B. Up in the Air, by Walter Kirn ’83
C. There Was a Little Girl, by Brooke Shields ’87
3. “The day my wife left she gave me a list of who I was.”
A. Native Speaker, by creative writing professor Chang-rae Lee
B. The Mind-Body Problem, by Rebecca Newberger Goldstein *77
C. The Marriage Plot, by creative writing professor Jeffrey Eugenides
4. “Cheyenne Mountain sits on the eastern slope of Colorado’s Front Range, rising steeply from the prairie and overlooking the city of Colorado Springs.”
A. Seizing Destiny, by Richard Kluger ’56
B. Fast Food Nation, by Eric Schlosser ’81
C. Told You So, by Ralph Nader ’55
1. B; 2. C; 3. A; 4: B