23 Diagrams That Show The Genius Of Famous Novels' Opening Lines

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In their magna opera, famous authors have written some of the most beautiful and well-known lines in literature.

Elements like word order, vocabulary, and grammatical construction give these sentences their power.

To demonstrate this, Pop Chat Lab diagrammed some famous novels' first lines. If a staunch logophile taught your seventh grade English class, you likely saw similar images.

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Depending on the part of speech and function within the sentence, each word sits on a different line in a different color.

Consider George Orwell's "1984," for example.

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"It," a noun, as shown by the color grey, is the subject of the first clause. The first slot on a line always represents the subject.

Next comes the verb "was," shown in olive green. Because "was" is a linking verb that doesn't require an object, the diagram uses a slanted line. A straight line - like the one between "were striking" and "thirteen" in the second clause (the lower line) - shows a direct object.

Adjectives (and articles) are shown on slanted vertical lines below the word they modify. The same applies to prepositional phrases like "in April."

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In sentences with more than one clause, like Orwell's above, dotted lines connect them.

Feast your eyes on more examples of opening sentences from famous books below.

From Toni Morrison's "Beloved."

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From Ernest Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea."

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From David Foster Wallace's "Infinite Jest."

From Gabriel Marcia Marquez' "One Hundred Years of Solitude."

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From Herman Melville's "Moby Dick."

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From David Markson's "Wittgenstein's Mistress."

From Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451."

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From F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby."

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From Thomas Pynchon's "Gravity's Rainbow."

From John Steinbeck's, "The Grapes of Wrath."

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From Vladimir Nabokov's "Lolita."

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From Hunter S. Thompson's "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas."

From Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice."

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From Raymond Chandler's "The Big Sleep."

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From Sylvia Plath's "The Bell Jar."

From Miguel de Cervantes' "Don Quixote."

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From Franz Kafka's "Metamorphosis."

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From H.G. Wells' "The Time Machine."

From Kurt Vonnegut's, "Slaughterhouse Five."

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From Cormac McCarthy's "The Road."

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From J.M. Barrie's "Peter Pan."

peter pan diagram

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From Leo Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina."

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Here's the full poster from Pop Chart Lab, available in a 24" by 18" print for $29.

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