Famous Last Words

A question on Quora asked: What are the most famous final passages from books or stories? Here are my votes for the top five. Feel free to add your favorite last lines in the comments.

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” — The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

“and yes I said yes I will Yes.” — Ulysses, James Joyce

“He loved Big Brother.” — Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell

“‘It is a far, far, better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far, better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.’”– A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

“‘After all, tomorrow is another day.’” — Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell

And five other good ones I missed:

“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.” — Animal Farm, George Orwell

“Isn’t it pretty to think so?” — The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway

“I been there before.” — Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain

“But, in spite of these deficiencies, the wishes, the hopes, the confidence, the predictions of the small band of true friends who witnessed the ceremony, were fully answered in the perfect happiness of the union.” — Emma, Jane Austen

“I am thinking of aurochs and angels, the secret of durable pigments, prophetic sonnets, the refuge of art. And this is the only immortality you and I may share, my Lolita.”  — Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov (not a book I personally liked, but this is a great line)

I looked through my favorite books on LibraryThing and added a few more last lines that have significant meaning for me.

“Yet what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?” — Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell

“Within, its walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.” — The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson

“I am legend.” — I Am Legend, Richard Matheson

“The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.” — The Dark Tower, Stephen King

“He says that he will never die.” — Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy

“And then I woke up.” — No Country for Old Men, Cormac McCarthy

“So this is what everybody’s always talking about! Diablo! If only I’d known. The beauty! The beauty!” — The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz

“And it may be that love sometimes occurs without pain or misery.” — The Shipping News, Annie Proulx

“He turned out the light and went into Jem’s room. He would be there all night, and he would be there when Jem waked up in the morning.” — To Kill a Mockingbird

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One thought on “Famous Last Words

  1. Great post. Here’s my favorite:

    “So in America when the sun goes down and I sit on the old broken-down river pier watching the long, long skies over New Jersey and sense all that raw land that rolls in one unbelievable huge bulge over to the West Coast, and all that road going, and all the people dreaming in the immensity of it, and in Iowa I know by now the children must be crying in the land where they let the children cry, and tonight the stars’ll be out, and don’t you know that God is Pooh Bear? the evening star must be drooping and shedding her sparkler dims on the prairie, which is just before the coming of complete night that blesses the earth, darkens all the rivers, cups the peaks and folds the final shore in, and nobody, nobody knows what’s going to happen to anybody besides the forlorn rags of growing old, I think of Dean Moriarty, I even think of Old Dean Moriarty the father we never found, I think of Dean Moriarty.” – On The Road, Jack Kerouac

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