In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. And the waters said, “Gawd, get outta my face with your wind!”
– Moses, Genesis (c. 1445 BC)
My purpose is to tell of bodies which have been transformed into shapes of a different kind using techniques drawn from Yoga, Pilates, and acrobatics.
– Ovid, Metamorphoses (8 AD)
Of Man's first disobedience, and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree, whose terrible taste (so bad)
Brought total disaster into the world (out of control),
With loss of Eden, till one tremendous Man
Restore us, and make the world great again.
– John Milton, Paradise Lost (1667)
It is a truth universally acknowledged in patriarchal, misogynist cultures, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.
– Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (1813)
There was no possibility of going for a run that day. Disappointingly, the New Balance Vazee Pace v2 trainers I’d ordered from Amazon failed to arrive in the post.
– Charlotte Brontë, Jayne Eyre (1847)
Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show, depending, of course, on whether or not I am a reliable narrator.
– Charles Dickens, David Copperfield (1850)
Call me Ishmael. I self-identify as bicurious.
– Herman Melville, Moby-Dick (1851)
Now, what I want is Alternative Facts… Alternative Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else and root out everything else.
– Charles Dickens, Hard Times (1854)
I am a sick man … I am a spiteful man. I am an unpleasant man. I am an alpha male.
– Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Notes from Underground (1864)
“Christmas won’t be Christmas without any Merry Christmas cards,” grumbled Jo, bitching on her blog “BenOpticon” about political correctness during the season of Our Lord’s Nativity.
– Louisa May Alcott, Little Women (1869)
Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way, but both behavioural and cognitive domestic dysfunction therapies are available on the NHS.
– Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina (1877)
Under certain circumstances there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hours dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon skinny lattes at Starbucks.
– Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady (1881)
The cold passed reluctantly from the earth, and the retiring fogs revealed an army stretched out on the hills, the men looking at photos of naked servicewomen on Facebook.
– Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage (1895)
All children, except two, grow up. One of them is an infantile old asshole.
– J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan (1911)
For a long time, I went to bed early but woke up often to check my smartphone.
– Marcel Proust, Swann's Way (1913)
Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of muesli and skimmed milk from which protruded a teaspoon, another goddam boring breakfast on his low cholesterol/trans-fat diet.
– James Joyce, Ulysses (1922)
Someone must have been tweeting lies about Joseph K., for without having done anything wrong he was arrested one fine morning and subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques.
– Franz Kafka, The Trial (1925)
Elmer Gantry was drunk, a homiletical trick for enhancing coherence and lucidity that he had learned at Liberty University.
– Sinclair Lewis, Elmer Gantry (1927)
In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit, until one sunny day he, his wife, and two young children were blasted to death by environmentally friendly fracking.
– J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit (1937)
It was just noon that Sunday morning when the sheriff reached the jail with Lucas Beauchamp though the whole town (the whole county too for that matter) had known since the night before that Lucas had killed a white man while he was asleep (Lucas, not the white man).
– William Faulkner, Intruder in the Dust (1948)
He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish due to stock depletion caused by global warming.
– Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea (1952)
There was a wall. It did not look important. Except to the Mexicans.
– Ursula Le Guin, The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia (1974)
Money … in a voice that sounded like plastic.
– William Gaddis, J R (1975)
It was the afternoon of my eighty-first birthday, and I was in bed with my catamite when Ali announced that the archbishop had come to see me with three tickets for Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.
– Anthony Burgess, Earthly Powers (1980)
The man in black fled across the desert, and the paparazzi followed.
– Stephen King, The Gunslinger (1982)
The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel, Fox News.
– William Gibson, Neuromancer (1984)
There was once, in the country of Alifbay, a sad city, the saddest of cities, a city so ruinously sad that it had forgotten its name. But a casino and a golf course would eventually fix all that.
– Salman Rushdie, Haroun and the Sea of Stories (1990)
It was the day my grandmother exploded, one of many civilians in the impoverished Yemeni village of al Ghayil pulverised by a team of gunship-backed US Navy Seals in a “highly successful operation”.
– Iain M. Banks, The Crow Road (1992)
Death is outside life but it alters it: it leaves a hole in the fabric of things which those who are left behind try to repair at the funeral by wearing bright colours, having friends read tacky poems, and listening to a CD of Robbie Williams singing “Angels”.
– Salley Vickers, Miss Garnet’s Angel (2000)
In the sixty-first year of his life, Liam Pennywell lost his job, and believing the Islamophobic propaganda of the Brexiteers, he cursed the Punjabi with the beard and turban who delivered his mail.
– Anne Tyler, Noah’s Compass (2010)