'Pride and Prejudice' opener on the money

A spellbound audience wishes they could have put it like that at Eleanor Catton's reading at the...
A spellbound audience wishes they could have put it like that at Eleanor Catton's reading at the 2014 Dunedin Writers and Readers Festival. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
Welcome back to those of you who thought you'd take another look at the new column.

An even bigger welcome to first-time visitors and also in advance (and with great hope on my part) to all those who haven't checked out What's With That? yet.

I was delighted to receive several phone calls and a handful of emails yesterday wishing the column luck. As a journalist there's often a sense you are sending your work out into a vacuum. Nice to know there's some receivers out there as well as this transmitter.

Congratulations to Lynne Hill of Mosgiel, who goes down in history as the first reader to reply to a WWT challenge.

Lynne's favourite first sentence in a book or play will be popular with many of you:

"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife'' - Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen).

Lynne says it is her favourite "because it sums up the plot of so many books, from Cinderella to the current crop of easy-read romances''.

Kari Wilson-Allan, of Dunedin, has chosen Eleanor Catton's The Luminaries:

"The twelve men congregated in the smoking room of the Crown Hotel gave the impression of a party accidentally met.''

Jane Austen: always popular. Photo: Getty Images
Jane Austen: always popular. Photo: Getty Images

Eleanor Catton reads more than just the first sentence of her Man Booker prize-winning The...
Eleanor Catton reads more than just the first sentence of her Man Booker prize-winning The Luminaries at the 2014 Dunedin Writers and Readers Festival. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery

She says you "can't help but continue reading: who are the men, why are they there, and what is the uncertainty in the air?''

Marie Harbitt, of South Dunedin, is a firm fan of the opening of Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, referred to in yesterday's column. And Peter Ramsay, of St Kilda, says you can't go past the first sentence of Ronald Hugh Morrieson's The Scarecrow: "The same week our fowls were stolen, Daphne Moran had her throat cut.''

Hopefully, more on this for you tomorrow - keep those literary opening lines coming.

Have you noticed how everything is a "conversation'' these days? You can't just "talk'' to someone anymore - an extra, delaying step is added to a simple process and you hear instead how "we must have a conversation about that''.

It's the same with "journey''. Everything is a journey - we're going on a personal journey, a health journey, a spiritual journey. What about a proper journey journey, actually involving kilometres?

I suppose it's all part of the ebb and flow and fashion of language, of how the lexicon is changing.

Let me know if you've heard, read or come across any ridiculous journeys lately.

Don't forget to keep writing to the email address above with your favourite first lines.

I'm also waiting with bated breath to hear your most embarrassing cellphone autocorrect texts. And please, please send us your photos of the bizarre and baffling.

 

Get in touch

PAUL GORMAN
Telephone: (03) 479-3519
email: whatswiththat@odt.co.nz

Comments

'Conversation' with the Boss used to mean dispute.

'I don't wish to have another conversation with that commodity'.

 

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