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January 15, 2014

Endings And Beginnings: Rewriting Old Classics

Paul Klee

I thought it would be amusing to put together the first and last sentence of books and see what happens, so I randomly selected 10 titles from The Guardian's Top 100 books of all timeThe result is rather interesting: Alternative thoughts, anecdotes and statements emerged from the novel's main story.... 

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain)
You don't know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain't no matter. I been there before.

Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy)

ALL happy families resemble one another; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. But my whole life, every moment of my life, independently of whatever may happen to me, will be, not meaningless as before, but full of the deep meaning which I shall have the power to impress upon it."

The Trial (Kafka)
Someone must have been telling lies about Josef K., he knew he had done nothing wrong but, one morning, he was arrested.  "Like a dog!" he said, it was as if the shame of it should outlive him.

Dead Souls (Gogol)
To the door of an inn in the provincial town of N. there drew up a smart britchka—a light spring-carriage of the sort affected by bachelors, retired lieutenant-colonels, staff-captains, land-owners possessed of about a hundred souls, and, in short, all persons who rank as gentlemen of the intermediate category. I invite those men to remember the duty which confronts us, whatsoever our respective stations; I invite them to observe more closely their duty, and to keep more constantly in mind their obligations of holding true to their country, in that before us the future looms dark, and that we can scarcely...."    [Here the manuscript of the original comes abruptly to an end.]

Gulliver's Travels (Jonathan Swift)
My father had a small estate in Nottinghamshire: I was the third of five sons.  I dwell the longer upon this subject from the desire I have to make the society of an English Yahoo by any means not insupportable; and therefore I here entreat those who have any tincture of this absurd vice, that they will not presume to come in my sight.

Hunger (Knut Hamsuné)
I was lying awake in my attic and I heard a clock below strike six. Out in the fjord I dragged myself up once, wet with fever and exhaustion, and gazed landwards, and bade farewell for the present to the town--to Christiania, where the windows gleamed so brightly in all the homes.

Love In The Time of Cholera (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love. ''Forever,'' he said.

Middlemarch (George Eliot)
Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress. But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.

Remembrance of Things Past: Swann's Way (Marcel Proust)
For a long time I used to go to bed early. But scarcely had daylight itself–and no longer the gleam from a last, dying ember on a brass curtain-rod, which I had mistaken for daylight–traced across the darkness, as with a stroke of chalk across a blackboard, its first white correcting ray, when the window, with its curtains, would leave the frame of the doorway, in which I had erroneously placed it, while, to make room for it, the writing-table, which my memory had clumsily fixed where the window ought to be, would hurry off at full speed, thrusting before it the mantelpiece, and sweeping aside the wall of the passage; the well of the courtyard would be enthroned on the spot where, a moment earlier, my dressing-room had lain, and the dwelling-place which I had built up for myself in the darkness would have gone to join all those other dwellings of which I had caught glimpses from the whirlpool of awakening; put to flight by that pale sign traced above my window-curtains by the uplifted forefinger of day.

To The Lighthouse (Virginia Woolf)
"Yes, of course, if it's fine tomorrow," said Mrs. Ramsay. Yes, she thought, laying down her brush in extreme fatigue, I have had my vision.



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