“Someone must have slandered Josef K. …”
First Sentences of World Literature and what they Reveal to Us
The first sentence is known to be the most difficult - and the most important. It must seduce the reader and usually reveals more than we perceive when we first read it: Sometimes it even contains the whole plot. Peter-André Alt's pleasurable journey through world literature demonstrates in illustrious examples from antiquity to the present day how their beginnings transform the curiosity of the reader into a lasting reading delight.
"For a long time I used to go to bed early." "Someone must have slandered Josef K....". Some first sentences of world literature have become so famous that one knows them, even without having read the book. The beginnings of novels and stories win over their readers by surprising or overwhelming, flattering, frightening, enticing or arousing. They can create tension or moods, bring the hero or heroine of the story to life or take the reader to the place and time of the event. Sometimes ironic, sometimes pathetic, confessional or dark, they introduce the story. Peter-André Alt's sparkling-lucid essay on the poetry of the beginning is illustrated by 251 examples from Homer to Walter Moers, from Tolstoy to Paul Auster. His book offers literary history in a nutshell and is itself a great temptation to read.
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