Journey to the centre: Great middle lines – 4

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink (translated by Carol Brown Janeway) is 216 pages long and the middle page (of my edition) is p. 108, where Hanna, a former guard in a Nazi concentration camp, is on trial for her part in locking women prisoners in a church which was then bombed and burnt down.  Two… Continue reading


This is an account of connections observed when a translator, or any writer, is absorbed in a story. This morning as I searched through a Wikipedia entry about One Thousand and One Nights for the use of a particular phrase, I came across the sub-heading ‘Foreshadowing’, which, I learned, is a literary device used by… Continue reading

54 great opening lines: 51

Queen Maritorne was the terror of greedy thieving children: she reigned from the attic, where lines of pears and apples ripened, to the vat from which the wine was drawn; she was also the punishment for drunks, and without warning would leap out from the cask tapped by the dishonest valet. Queen Maritorne, Jean Lorrain… Continue reading

54 great opening lines: 33

All happy families are alike but an unhappy family is unhappy after its own fashion. Anna Karenin, Leo Tolstoy (Trans. by Rosemary Edmonds, who prefers this title over Anna Karenina) ***** This novel brings two things to mind: 1.  An author I work for dictates while I type.  She dictates for several minutes, then thinks… Continue reading

54 great opening lines: 30

These are stories for the ill, stories for the dull setting of a bedroom with herbal teas and hot infusions where Norine was invited to come and dreamily tell stories at our too-well loved childhood bedside, between six and seven, the hour when fever increases. Stories for Sick Children, Jean Lorrain ***** Thus begins a… Continue reading

54 great opening lines: 27

One day in the spring of 1998, Bluma Lennon bought a secondhand copy of Emily Dickinson’s poems in a bookshop in Soho, and as she reached the second poem on the first street corner, she was knocked down by a car. The Paper House, Carlos María Domínguez (Trans. Nick Caistor) ***** This is a small… Continue reading

54 great opening lines: 19

Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez ***** Some books have a title that tempts me to turn to the blurb;  this is one of them.  And then, even… Continue reading

54 great opening lines: 15

Mother died today. The Outsider, Albert Camus (trans. by Stuart Gilbert.  Originally L’étranger) ***** Yesterday (no. 14) I posted the first line from The Outsiders.  With a final s.  Different book, different author, but the same theme of a protagonist who feels like he’s outside of society.  Like a misfit. Today’s post is about The… Continue reading

A Short Story from New Caledonia about Japan. Translated from French

Origami by Anne Bihan (© Translation by Patricia J.F. Worth) Trembling.  It’s what I do best. I’m an expert at trembling. I have an incredible mastery of trembling. Had it since I was very small. Since the day I started kindergarten, the teacher has been telling my mother who comes to pick me up every… Continue reading

54 great opening lines: 7

Trembling.  It’s what I do best. Origami, Anne Bihan (Translated by me) ***** You may have read this short story in French.  🙂  But if you didn’t, then let me show you what it looks like in English.  The author, Anne Bihan, has given me permission to blog my translation of it, so, after dinner,… Continue reading