1930s Reading Project – Opening Paragraphs

  1. Her Gart went round in circles. “I am Her,” she

    said to herself; she repeated, “Her. Her. Her.” Her Gart tried to hold on to something; drowning she grasped, she caught at a smooth surface, her

    fingers slipped, she cried in her dementia, “I am Her, Her, Her.” Her Gart had no word for her dementia, it was predictable by star, by star-sign, by

    year.

  2. “Fearon! What is the matter with you, boy?”
  3. When the writer permits himself the familiarity of calling her

    Mary Dove it is not from any disrespect to a lady of rank, nor with any pretensions to the intimate condescension of a lady of fashion. It is written

    so merely because he finds it a pleasant thing to set down the name: Mary Dove.

  4. In the year 332BC a short line of galleys might

    have been seen, sailing in-shore from mouth to mouth across the Delta of the Nile. Sailing from East to West, from the port of Naucratis, hugging the

    coast; and at the poop of the leading ship a group of young men stared at the shore. From time to time they scratched its appearance on their tablets,

    and leaning upon one another’s shoulders, compared results. More than once one whom they called Nearchos, the only one who wore his beard cut short

    like a seaman, put off in a dinghy and trudged the beaches; or, mounting the ledge of rock which divided the sand from the true earth, stared across

    the country at his feet.

  5. Far down the street I saw the night watchman slowly approaching with his lantern. He was singing to

    himself in a soft grief-stricken voice. When he saw me he grew silent, his wrinkled-apple face grew intent and solemn. He passed me quietly. And then

    when he reached the corner he began singing again, chanting, I should have gathered from his tone, about the coming of disasters, the grief of old

    men, the end of love.

  6. Beginning this book (not as they say ‘book’ in our trade – they mean magazine), beginning this book, I should

    like if I may, I should like, if I may (that is the way Sir Phoebus writes), I should like then to say: Good-bye to all my friends, my beautiful and

    lovely friends.

  7. Early in 1880, in spite of a well-founded suspicion as to the advisability of perpetuating that race which has the

    sanction of the Lord and the disapproval of the people, Hedvig Volkbein – a Viennese woman of great strength and military beauty, lying upon a

    canopied bed of a rich spectacular crimson, the valance stamped with the bifurcated wings of the House of Hapsburg, the feather coverlet an envelope

    of satin on which, in massive and tarnished gold threads, stood the Volkbein arms – gave birth, at the age of forty-five, to an only child, a son,

    seven days after her physician predicted that she would be taken.

  8. “Claro,” said the warder, “Claro, hombre!” It was the

    condescension of one caballero to another. His husky voice was modulated upon the principle of an omniscient rationality. When he spoke, he spoke from

    the bleak, socratic peak of his wisdom to another neighbouring peak – equally equipped with the spotless panoply of logic. Deep answered to deep –

    height hurled back its assent to height! “Claro, hombre!” he repeated, tight-lipped, with the controlled passion of the great logician. “We are never

    free to choose – because we are only free once in our lives.”

  9. ’49 Wyatt, 01549 Wyatt.
  10. It seems, though it was many years

    ago, only yesterday that we citizens of a seaside town, standing in the ranks along the esplanade, watched, cheering at the same time with all the

    force of our lungs, the outset of the three brothers who, with the inconsiderate fine daring of youth, were prepared, each in his own way, to go far

    on bicycles, distinguishing our town by an attempt which even the brothers only dimly understood and which seemed to most of us who stood spectators

    vociferously cheering impracticable, to some even ridiculous. Young and vigorous they looked, different one from the other, as they wheeled into the

    square their diverse coloured bicycles, made by the same maker at different dates, and they seemed, by the expression on their faces, already in

    thought upon the moorland road which was to lead them to the frontier miles away, where very few of us had ever been, and those few shook their heads

    with a hint of dangers to be met, saying nothing but doubting much, as the rest of us doubted, whether the brothers ever were destined to achieve the

    purpose which they all, though very indistinctly, had in view.

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