The greatest opening passage in American literature? So many, but I’ll go with Of Mice and Men

A few miles south of Soledad, the Salinas River drops in close to the hillside bank and runs deep and green. The water is warm too, for it has slipped twinkling over the yellow sands in the sunlight before reaching the narrow pool. On one side of the river the golden foothill slopes curve up to the strong and rocky Gabilan Mountains, but on the valley side the water is lined with trees- willows fresh and green with every spring, carrying in their lower leaf junctures the debris of the winter’s flooding; and sycamores with mottled, white, recumbent limbs and branches that arch over the pool. On the sandy bank under the trees the leaves lie deep and so crisp that a lizard makes a great skittering if he runs among them. Rabbits come out of the brush to sit on the sand in the evening, and the damp flats are covered with the night tracks of ‘coons, and with the spread pads of dogs from the ranches, and with the split-wedge tracks of deer that come to drink in the dark.

So beautiful. The setting is classic California, long before the overcrowded freeways and automobiles would choke the state. It was still an idyllic place where nature ruled. The temperate climate, laced with river, tree and animal.

Steinbeck captures it beautifully.

The Salinas River, inspiration for the novel Of Mice and Men

2 thoughts on “What’s the Greatest Opening Passage in American Literature?

  1. i love exceptionally written prose. my oldest shares my love of reading, and although we like different styles, we both appreciate and value a sentence or paragraph that is so well written it should be framed. unfortunately, we’d have to add walls in our house if we framed all of them 🙂

    i think i had the blendingame blog when i read Tolstoy’s Anna Kerenina, and if i remember correctly, i posted some quotes i thought notable. it’s been quite a few years so i’d have to look.

    sometimes i think i should keep a journal of all the quotes i find amazing, but i’ve yet to do so.

    1. “sometimes i think i should keep a journal of all the quotes i find amazing, but i’ve yet to do so”

      That’s the great think about a blog…you can share them with the world. 🙂

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