Famous novels' opening lines rewritten for the present pandemic moment

Originally published at: Famous novels' opening lines rewritten for the present pandemic moment | Boing Boing


It’s been a scary pandemic.



It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking Meeting ID: 123 456 789. —George Orwell, 1984

The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new. —Samuel Beckett, Murphy

ETAs, while lunching:

Zoom died today. —Albert Camus, The Stranger (though the original would be fittingly depressing)

Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them webcasting. —William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury

Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself, but the florist was shut down for the pandemic. — Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway

I had the story, bit by bit, from various people, and, as generally happens in such cases, each time people don’t mute themselves. —Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome

Elmer Gantry was drunk, and left his video on, which was hilarious during the work meeting. —Sinclair Lewis, Elmer Gantry


It was the worst of times.

The End.

Ending New Year GIF by Looney Tunes


It was a dark and stormy night; the movies came in torrents, except at the very beginning of the pandemic, when all the legal streaming content was swiftly hoovered up (for it is in plague times that our scene lies), the home theater system rattling the walls, and fiercely combating the crushing boredom and loneliness against which everyone struggled in the darkness.


A Tale of Two Cities still works with best and worst.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of introverts, it was the age of Zoombombings, it was the epoch of vaccine miracles, it was the epoch of anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers, it was the season of take-out, it was the season of gig economy exploitation, it was the spring of electoral change, it was the winter of conspiracy theorist insurrections.”


It was a dark and contagious night.


“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, will do extremely well during a pandemic”


Far Out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun, orbited by the plague-planet called Earth. - Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

The unusual events described in the news and on social media occurred in 202- all around the world. - Albert Camus, The Plague

When Gregor Samsa woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, he found his home changed into a monstrous prison - Franz Kafka, Metamorphosis

"Holidays won’t be holidays without any visits,” grumbled Everyone, lying on the rug. - Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

There was no possibility of avoiding takeout that year - Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

Last night I dreamt I went to a restaurant again. - Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca

I had the guidelines, bit by bit, from various people, and, as generally happens in such cases, each time it was a different story. - Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome

The plague’s in a foreign country; they do things differently there. - L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between


“Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly entitled not to wear masks, thank you very much.”


The sky above the port was a beautiful clear blue, because everyone was working from home.
– William Gibson, Neuromancer


“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, but after restarting His wretched fucking VPN connection and locating the meeting ID, the haggard, fishbelly pale visages of His co-workers swam up from the deep and hovered, strangely clipped, in badly composited video backdrops.”
~ God


When I wrote the following pages, or rather the bulk of them, I lived alone, in the woods, a mile from any neighbor, and a damn good thing it was too, since those lunkheaded Trumpers could not be coaxed to wear a mask of any sort.
~Henry David Thoreau, Walden


“We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when I finally felt safe enough to take my mask off.”

  • Hunter Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

There were four of us - George, and William Samuel Harris, and myself, and Montmorency. It would have been against the lockdown rules for four of us to be together, but Montmorency was a dog.

Jerome K Jerome, Three Men In A Boat.

Not a novel, but …

I have always thought that there is no more fruitful source of family discontent than a housewife’s badly-cooked dinners and untidy ways. Even more so during lockdown, stuck at home with a husband who won’t help.

Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management.


When Mr Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventyifirst birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton, because this would contravene the local lockdown rules.


Marley was dead, to begin with, and Scrooge tried to think back to when he’d last been within six feet of Marley indoors.

Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol


Seemed to me like a missed opportunity…

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
In fact, it was unprecedented times.

1 Like

“It was infection at first sight.”


“Call me Ishmael, but please wear a mask when you do.”

Moby Dick

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen, which meant little to the people of Airstrip One, now on their 14th month of quarantine (which a month ago had been their 23rd month of quarantine).”


“I am an invisible man, for my PPE obscures my every feature.”

Invisible Man


This whole thread is gold, but to me, your Ethan Frame quote takes the cake, :clap:t2:


Antonio: In sooth I know not why I am so sad. It wearies me; you say it wearies you; But how I caught it, found it, or came by it, what stuff 'tis made of, whereof it is born, I am to learn; but I’m pretty sure I caught it when Karen coughed in my face at Starbucks

- The Merchant of Venice