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Prose is a form of written or spoken
language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an apparent answer to the painful divisions between self and other, private and public, and ...

language
that typically exhibits a natural flow of speech and
grammatical structure In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis includ ...
. A related narrative device is the
stream of consciousness In literary criticism Literary criticism (or literary studies) is the study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature Literature broadly is any collection of Writing, written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings spe ...
, which also flows naturally but is not concerned with
syntax In linguistics, syntax () is the set of rules, principles, and processes that govern the structure of Sentence (linguistics), sentences (sentence structure) in a given Natural language, language, usually including word order. The term ''syntax'' ...

syntax
. The word "prose" first appears in
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
in the 14th century. It is derived from the
Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the Latin spok ...
''prose'', which in turn originates in the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an appa ...

Latin
expression ''prosa oratio'' (literally, straightforward or direct speech). Works of
philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philosophy of language, language. Such questio ...

philosophy
,
history History (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approxima ...

history
,
economics Economics () is a social science Social science is the Branches of science, branch of science devoted to the study of society, societies and the Social relation, relationships among individuals within those societies. The term was fo ...

economics
, etc.., journalism, and most
fiction Fiction is any creative workA creative work is a manifestation of creative effort including fine artwork (sculpture Sculpture is the branch of the visual arts that operates in three dimensions. It is one of the plastic arts. Durable sculp ...

fiction
(an exception is the
verse novelA verse novel is a type of narrative poetry in which a novel-length narrative is told through the medium of poetry rather than prose. Either simple or complex stanzaic verse-forms may be used, but there will usually be a large cast, multiple voices ...
), are examples of works written in prose. It differs from most traditional
poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesthetics, aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of language − such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre (poetry), metre ...

poetry
, where the form has a regular structure, consisting of
verse Verse may refer to: Poetry * Verse, an occasional synonym for poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesthetics, aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of language ...
based on
metre The metre ( Commonwealth spelling) or meter (American spelling Despite the various English dialects spoken from country to country and within different regions of the same country, there are only slight regional variations in English o ...
and
rhyme A rhyme is a repetition of similar sounds (usually, exactly the same sound) in the final stressed syllables and any following syllables of two or more words. Most often, this kind of perfect rhyming is consciously used for a musical or aesthetic e ...
. However, developments in twentieth century literature, including
free verse Free verse is an open form of , which in its modern form arose through the French ' form. It does not use consistent patterns, , or any musical pattern. It thus tends to follow the rhythm of . Definition Free verse does not "proceed by a strict ...
,
concrete poetry Concrete poetry is an arrangement of linguistic elements in which the typographical effect is more important in conveying meaning than verbal significance. It is sometimes referred to as visual poetry Literary theorists have identified visual p ...
, and
prose poetry Prose poetry is poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesthetics, aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of language—such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and m ...
, have led to the idea of poetry and prose as two ends on a spectrum rather than firmly distinct from each other. The American poet T. S. Eliot noted, whereas "the distinction between
verse Verse may refer to: Poetry * Verse, an occasional synonym for poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesthetics, aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of language ...
and prose is clear, the distinction between
poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesthetics, aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of language − such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre (poetry), metre ...

poetry
and prose is obscure."


History

Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an appa ...

Latin
was a major influence on the development of prose in many
European countries The list below includes all entities falling even partially under any of the various common definitions of Europe, geographical or political. Fifty generally recognised sovereign states, Kosovo with limited, but substantial, international recog ...
. Especially important was the great Roman orator
Cicero Marcus Tullius Cicero ( ; ; 3 January 106 BC – 7 December 43 BC) was a Ancient Rome, Roman statesman, lawyer, scholar, philosopher and Academic skepticism, Academic Skeptic, who tried to uphold optimate principles during crisis of ...

Cicero
(106 – 43 BC). It was the ''lingua franca'' among literate Europeans until quite recent times, and the great works of
Descartes
Descartes
(1596 – 1650),
Francis Bacon Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St Alban, (; 22 January 1561 – 9 April 1626), also known as Lord Verulam, was an English philosopher and statesman who served as Attorney General for England and Wales, Attorney General and as Lord Chancellor of K ...

Francis Bacon
(1561 – 1626), and
Baruch Spinoza Baruch (de) Spinoza (; ; ; born Baruch Espinosa; later as an author and a correspondent Benedictus de Spinoza, anglicized to Benedict de Spinoza; 24 November 1632 – 21 February 1677) was a Dutch philosopher of Spanish and Portuguese Jews, Por ...

Baruch Spinoza
(1632 – 1677) were published in Latin. Among the last important books written primarily in Latin prose were the works of
Swedenborg Emanuel Swedenborg (, ; born Emanuel Swedberg; 29 March 1772) was a Swedish Swedish or ' may refer to: * Anything from or related to Sweden, a country in Northern Europe * Swedish language, a North Germanic language spoken primarily in Sweden ...

Swedenborg
(d. 1772),
Linnaeus Carl Linnaeus (; 23 May 1707 – 10 January 1778), also known after his Nobility#Ennoblement, ennoblement as Carl von Linné#Blunt, Blunt (2004), p. 171. (), was a Swedish botanist, zoologist, taxonomist, and physician who formalised binomi ...

Linnaeus
(d. 1778),
Euler Leonhard Euler ( ; ; 15 April 170718 September 1783) was a Swiss mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers ( and ) ...

Euler
(d. 1783),
Gauss Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss (; german: Gauß ; la, Carolus Fridericus Gauss; 30 April 177723 February 1855) was a German mathematician This is a List of German mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of m ...

Gauss
(d. 1855), and
Isaac Newton Sir Isaac Newton (25 December 1642 – 20 March 1726/27) was an English mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics a ...

Isaac Newton
(d. 1727).


Qualities

Prose usually lacks the more formal metrical structure of the
verse Verse may refer to: Poetry * Verse, an occasional synonym for poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesthetics, aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of language ...
s found in traditional
poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesthetics, aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of language − such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre (poetry), metre ...

poetry
. It comprises full grammatical sentences (other than in
stream of consciousness In literary criticism Literary criticism (or literary studies) is the study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature Literature broadly is any collection of Writing, written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings spe ...
narrative), and paragraphs, whereas poetry often involves a metrical or
rhyming A rhyme is a repetition of similar sounds (usually, exactly the same sound) in the final stressed syllables and any following syllables of two or more words. Most often, this kind of perfect rhyming is consciously used for artistic effect in the fi ...
scheme. Some works of prose make use of rhythm and verbal music. Verse is normally more systematic or formulaic, while prose is closer to both ordinary, and conversational speech. In
Molière Jean-Baptiste Poquelin (; 15 January 1622 (baptised) – 17 February 1673), known by his stage name Molière (, , ), was a French playwright, actor, and poet, widely regarded as one of the greatest writers in the and world literature. His ...

Molière
's play ''
Le Bourgeois gentilhomme ''Le Bourgeois gentilhomme'' (, ''The Bourgeois Gentleman'' or ''The Middle-Class Aristocrat'' or ''The Would-Be Noble'') is a five-act '' comédie-ballet'' – a play intermingled with music, dance and singing – written by Molière, first pres ...
'' the character Monsieur Jourdain asked for something to be written in neither verse nor prose, to which a philosophy master replies: "there is no other way to express oneself than with prose or verse", for the simple reason that "everything that is not prose is verse, and everything that is not verse is prose". American novelist
Truman Capote Truman Garcia Capote (; born Truman Streckfus Persons, September 30, 1924 – August 25, 1984) was an American novelist, screenwriter, playwright, and actor. Several of his short stories, novels, and plays have been praised as literary classic ...
, in an interview, commented as follows on prose style:


Types

Many types of prose exist, which include those used in works of
nonfiction Nonfiction (also spelled non-fiction) is any document or content (media), media content that intends, in good faith, to present only truth and accuracy regarding information, events, or people. Nonfictional content may be presented either Objecti ...
,
prose poem Prose poetry is poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesthetics, aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of language—such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and m ...
, alliterative prose, and those found in works of fiction. * A prose poem – is a composition in prose that has some of the qualities of a poem. * Haikai prose – combines
haiku is a type of short form poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesthetics, aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of language—such as phonaesthetics, sound symbol ...

haiku
and prose. *
Prosimetrum A ''prosimetrum'' (plural ''prosimetra'') is a poetic composition which exploits a combination of prose Prose is a form of written (or spoken) language that usually exhibits a natural speech, natural flow of speech and Syntax, grammatical structu ...
– is a poetic composition which exploits a combination of prose and
verse Verse may refer to: Poetry * Verse, an occasional synonym for poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesthetics, aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of language ...
(''metrum'');Braund, Susanna.
Prosimetrum
. In Cancil, Hubert, and Helmuth Schneider, eds. ''Brill's New Pauly''. Brill Online, 2012. Retrieved 2 October 2015.
in particular, it is a text composed in alternating segments of prose and verse.Brogan, T.V.F. "Prosimetrum". In Green et al., pp. 1115–1116. It is widely found in Western and Eastern literature. *
Purple prose In literary criticism Literary criticism (or literary studies) is the study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature Literature broadly is any collection of Writing, written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings spec ...
– is prose that is so extravagant, ornate, or flowery as to break the flow and draw excessive attention to itself.


Divisions of prose

Prose is divided into two main divisions: *Fiction, and *Non fiction


References


Further reading

* Patterson, William Morrison
''Rhythm of Prose''
Columbia University Press, 1917. * 244 pages. * 216 pages.


External links


Prose examples in Literature
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