Regular cognitive science posting will resume in the very near future, but for the holiday, I thought I’d go with something a bit lighter. What’s your favorite opening paragraph in a book? I’ve always liked the standards: Notes from the Underground and One Hundred Years of Solitude (and even Love in the Time of Cholera), for example. I’d include the opening of Growth of Soil on that list, too. But I think I’ve found one to add to that list. It’s the opening of Ivan Aleksandrovich Goncharov’s Oblamov, and in David Magarshak’s translation, it goes like this:
Ilya Ilyich Oblomov was lying in bed one morning in his flat in Gorokhovaya Street in one of those large houses which have as many inhabitants as a county.
He was a man of about thirty-two or three, of medium height and pleasant appearance, with dark grey eyes, but with a total absence of any definite idea, any concentration, in his features. Thoughts promenaded freely all over his face, fluttered about in his eyes, reposed on his half-parted lips, concealed themselves in the furrow of his brow, and then vanished completely — and it was at such moments that an expression of serene unconcern spread all over his face. This unconcern passed from his face into the contours of his body and even into the folds of his dressing gown.
So, tell me your favorites. If you have copies nearby, go ahead and type them out.