Thirty Days of First Lines: Day 13

Today three openers by Thomas Hardy:

“The schoolmaster was leaving the village, and everybody seemed sorry.”

Jude the Obscure

When Farmer Oak smiled, the corners of his mouth spread till they were within an unimportant distance of his ears, his eyes were reduced to chinks, and diverging wrinkles appeared round them, extending upon his countenance like the rays in a rudimentary sketch of the rising sun.

Far From the Madding Crowd (which in turn takes its title from a poem with a wonderful first line of its own, “The Curfew tolls the knell of parting day.”

A person who differed from the local wayfarers was climbing the steep road which leads through the sea-skirted townlet definable as the Street of Wells, and forms a pass into that Gibraltar of Wessex, the singular peninsula once an island, and still called such, that stretches out like the head of a bird into the English Channel.

The Well-Beloved

Wessex

Hardy’s Wessex, the locus of his fiction and much of poetry. Llike Yoknapatawpha County for William Faulkner and Malgudi for R.K. Narayan, it was fertile ground for extraordinary novels.

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