“Gormenghast, that is, the main massing of the original stone, taken by itself would have displayed a certain ponderous architectural quality, were it possible to have ignored the circumfusion of those mean dwellings that swarmed like an epidemic around its outer walls.”
Titus Groan, Mervyn Peake
Leaving aside the obviously gorgeous Lolita, those are my two favourite openings to novels.
“You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino’s new novel, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler.”
If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler, Italo Calvino
“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.”