Incipit and Explicit

Before the practice of title pages, an incipit, or beginning of a text, was how that text was referred to.  For example, in Hebrew the first book of the Pentateuch is called, “In the beginning,” not Genesis (Wikipedia, 2014).  Although the term is generally meant for works without title pages many poems, stories, legal codes, and even Word documents are known by their first lines (Wikipedia, 2014).  In this vein, the incipit of A Farewell to Arms is as follows, “In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains” (Heminway, 1929, p.3).

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Explicit means, “The closing words of a manuscript, early printed book, or chanted liturgical text”  it literally means “here ends” (Oxford, 2014).  The explicit of A Farewell to Arms is, “After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain.  The End ” (Hemingway, 1929, p.355).

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