No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, 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.
Admittedly when you’re talking about picking great quotes, I feel that this is low-hanging fruit. But it is a great quote, and I’m including it.
That is the opening to Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, one of the great haunted house novels. It was published 58 years ago, in ’59. Shirley Jackson wrote 6 novels and well over a hundred stories. Odds are good that people in the North American school system at least were exposed to “The Lottery”, but if you’ve missed it, I recommend picking up “The Summer People“.
(I’m not explicitly picking opening quotes, by the way; I am just trending in a direction that avoids spoilers, and since a lot of the great quotes that resonate with me are beginnings or endings–which is part of why I’m taking Cat Rambo’s class on same this month–I’m mostly going to lean heavily towards beginnings.)