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October 16, 2010

Opening Paragraphs of Haroun and the Sea of Stories

A while ago I was talking about childrens literature with a friend of mine. Salman Rushdie's "Haroun And The Sea of Stories" came up in conversation-- I've been studying how children's stories begin and these first two opening paragraphs struck me as particularly beautiful:


"There was once, in the country of Alifbay, a sad city, the saddest of cities, a city so ruinously sad that it had forgotten its name. It stood by a mournful sea full of glumfish, which were so miserable to eat that they made people belch with melancholy even though the skies were blue.

"In the north of the sad city stood mighty factories in which (so I'm told) sadness was actually manufactured, packaged and sent all over the world, which never seemed to get enough of it. Black smoke poured out of the chimneys of the sadness factories and hung over the city like bad news."

How could a fairy tale that starts in such miserable Sadness go anywhere but Beautiful?

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