Great first and last lines from various works

Inevitably, this thread will contain spoilers. I’m going to beg you not to use spoiler boxes, and not to read if spoilers in the form of last lines upset you. It won’t matter, but I have to say it as a matter of principle.

Two of mine:

First line: “What is time?” (Borderliners, Peter Hoeg)

Last line: “Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger.” (“Araby”, James Joyce)

during the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppresively low in the heavens, had been passing alone, on horseback, though a singularly dreary tract of country; and at length found myself, as the shades of the evening drew on, within view of the melancholy house of usher
edgar allen poe

“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.”

–Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford (1830)
Yes! That IS where that came from!

The last line of The Masque of the Red Death :

“And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all.”

What’s it going to be then, eh?

(Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange)

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.

Anthony Burgess, Earthly Powers.

Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliana Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.

GG Marquez.

In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. “Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And one fine morning—— So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

The Great Gatsby

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”

Anna Karenina

How about an example of a great opening line that is also the ending line?

“The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.”

Stephen King, The Dark Tower

“Mother died today, or maybe yesterday, I’m not sure.” – Opening line of Albert Camus’ The Stranger

“Last night, I dreamed of Manderley.” – Opening line of DuMaurier’s Rebecca

[sub](I’m doing this from memory, so I apologize if any error.)[/sub]

“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 direct to heaven, we were all doing 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.”
Charles Dickens, (1812-1870) **A Tale of Two Cities **
:“all me Ishmael.”
Herman Melville, Moby Dick.
If prefaces count-

“The Second World War was over–and there I was at high noon, crossing Times Square with a Purple Heart on.”-Eliot Rosewater, President, The Rosewater Foundation.
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., in God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater.

“In my family, there was no clear division between religion and fly fishing.” -Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It, 1976

“Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember the distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.” – Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude. I quoted this once in a room full of professional writers and they were just plained awed by its brilliance.

First line:

“True! nervous, very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why *will *you say that I am mad?”

–Edgar Allen Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart
Last line:

" ‘Should be there in an hour,’ he called back over his shoulder to Chuck. Then he added, in an afterthought, ‘Wonder if the computer’s finished its run? It was due about now.’

Chuck didn’t reply, so George swung round in his saddle. He could just see Chuck’s face, a white oval turned toward the sky.

‘Look,’ whispered Chuck, and George lifted his eyes to heaven. (There is always a last time for everything.)

Overhead, without any fuss, the stars were going out."

–Arthur C. Clarke, The Nine Billion Names of God

The end of Samuel Beckett’s Molloy:

“Bill never realized that sex was the cause of it all.”

– Bill the Galactic Hero - Harry Harrison

I don’t have the book in front of me but one of Stephen King’s short stories is presented as the diary of a man marooned alone on an island with nothing to eat. He’s slowly going mad and the last intelligible entry is:

“If you are what you eat then I HAVEN’T CHANGED A BIT”

You can figure out what he’s been doing for food.

“Jeff Winston was on the phone with his wife when he died.” Replay, Ken Grimwood

“Her first name was India – she was never able to get used to it. It seemed to her that her parents must have been thinking of someone else when they named her. Or were they hoping for another sort of daughter? As a child she was often on the point of inquiring, but time passed, and she never did.”

Mrs. Bridge, Evan S. Connell

(Maybe not the most arresting piece of prose to start with, but it sums up what follows better than any first paragraph I’ve ever read. Neat trick.)

I wish either my father or my mother, or indeed both of them, as they were
in duty both equally bound to it, had minded what they were about when they
begot me; had they duly consider’d how much depended upon what they were
then doing;–that not only the production of a rational Being was concerned
in it, but that possibly the happy formation and temperature of his body,
perhaps his genius and the very cast of his mind;–and, for aught they knew
to the contrary, even the fortunes of his whole house might take their turn
from the humours and dispositions which were then uppermost;–Had they duly
weighed and considered all this, and proceeded accordingly,–I am verily
persuaded I should have made a quite different figure in the world, from
that in which the reader is likely to see me.

–The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gent. by Laurence Sterne.

Man, there’s an awful lot of punctuation in that sentence. Of course, there’s an awful lot of sentence in that sentence, also.