Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Best Last Lines from Novels

The American Book Review published a list of the best last lines of novels. I've reprinted the top 10 here without the title or author so you can give it a guess if you'd like. Some of them are pretty obvious. You can take a look at the entire list here to see if you guessed correctly.

Top 10 Last Lines from Novels:

1. ...you must go on, I can't go on, I'll go on.


2. Who knows but that, on the lower frequencies, I speak for you?


3. So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.


4. ...I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.


5. But I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she's going to adopt me and sivilize me and I can't stand it. I been there before.


6. "Yes," I said. "Isn't it pretty to think so?"


7. He loved Big Brother.


8. It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.


9. The offing was barred by a black bank of clouds, and the tranquil waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth flowed sombre under an overcast sky -- seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness.


10. Yes, she thought, laying down her brush in extreme fatigue, I have had my vision.

What do you think is more important or makes a bigger impression in a novel -- a great first line or a great last line?

10 comments:

Dorothy W. said...

I got them all, except I couldn't name the Beckett title, although I knew the author. It seems like the last line might matter more, and yet it also seems like we tend to remember first lines more often -- it is a truth universally acknowledged, etc.

Lisa said...

dorothy, I agree that it does seem like first lines get more attention, which is interesting since the last line is the reader's last contact with the book.

Andi said...

I'm in the first line camp. I tend to remember lots of first lines, whereas I don't think I can remember ANY last lines. Wow. Weird.

Lisa said...

andi, I had never really thought about it before, but I guess I probably remember last lines more simply because of my extremely poor memory!

jenclair said...

First lines are the ones that grab your interest and make you want to read the book.

I only recognized #'s 5, 7, 8, and 9 of the last lines, although I have read #'s 3 and 6...

Lisa said...

jenclair, I didn't get them all either. I have a terrible memory even when it comes to books!

raych said...

I love these sorts of things!
A great first line pulls me in, but a great last line makes me feel like the book was well-thought-through and wrapped up nicely. So, I guess it's a tie.

Lisa said...

raych, I too love these sorts of lists, although I'm horrible at remembering specific lines from novels.

Kelly said...

Such a refreshing change of topic! I'll have to think about my favorite last lines. Can I answer both are important? :)

Lisa said...

Kelly, of course you can! I love things like this, don't you?