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It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

Context

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You're looking at one of the most famous opening lines in all of literature.

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Mr. Bingley, a young and rich bachelor, has moved into town, and mother-cum-matchmaker Mrs. Bennet, with her five unmarried daughters, is set on making him fall for at least one of them.

The line—spoken by the snarky narrator—is, of course, a little tongue-in-cheek. A single, wealthy man isn't necessarily in need of a wife, but Mrs. Bennet is certainly in need of a single, wealthy man. By using the words "truth universally acknowledged," Austen parodies the philosophical works of the time—as if saying it makes it so. 

Austen is having a bit a fun while introducing us straightaway to the main plot element of her novel: marriage.

Where you've heard it

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that __________."

Fill in the blank and have fun.

Pretentious Factor

If you were to drop this quote at a dinner party, would you get an in-unison "awww" or would everyone roll their eyes and never invite you back? Here it is, on a scale of 1-10.

This opening line is so well known that reciting it could hardly be considered pretentious. Just remember to maintain the sarcasm.

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