Let’s Play The Literary Masterpiece/Mental Illness Match Game!

April 19, 2012 Alistair McHarg

Much has been made about the relationship between mental illness and artistic creativity. To test this theory, I’ve assembled some of the most famous first lines in fiction. Your challenge is to match them with their book of origin, the author of that book, and – this is the important part – the mental illness that prompted the passage.

For example:

First Sentence: “We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.”

Book: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Author: Hunter S. Thompson

Mental Illness: Chemical dependency & narcissism.

Easy, right? Okay, here we go. Good luck!

1. First Sentence: “It was a pleasure to burn.”

2. First Sentence: “Call me Ishmael.”

3. First Sentence: “Mama died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know.”

4. First Sentence: “As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a monstrous vermin.”

5. First Sentence: “If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.”

6. First Sentence: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

7. First Sentence: “Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo.”


1) Book: Fahrenheit 451

Author: Ray Bradbury

Mental Illness: Pyromania.

2.) Book: Moby Dick

Author: Herman Melville

Mental Illness: Dissociative Identity Disorder. Seasickness By Proxy.

3.) Book: The Stranger

Author: Albert Camus

Mental Illness: Clinical Depression. Ennui. Flat affect. Unambiguous Nihilism.

4.) Book: Metamorphosis

Author: Franz Kafka

Mental Illness: Arachnophobia. Hallucinatory Exoskeletal Paranoia.

5.) Book: The Catcher In The Rye

Author: J.D. Salinger

Mental Illness: Passive/Aggressive Defiance & Fear Of Intimacy

6.) Book: A Tale Of Two Cities

Author: Charles Dickens

Mental Illness: Rapid-Cycling Bipolar II – Pathological Fear Of Commitment

7.) Book: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Author: James Joyce

Mental Illness: Paraphilic Infantilism (Autonepiophilia/Adult Baby Syndrome)

APA Reference
McHarg, A. (2012, April 19). Let’s Play The Literary Masterpiece/Mental Illness Match Game!, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 24 from

Author: Alistair McHarg

Leave a reply