The Info List - Purple Prose

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In literary criticism , PURPLE PROSE is prose text that is so extravagant, ornate, or flowery as to break the flow and draw excessive attention to itself. Purple prose is characterized by the excessive use of adjectives, adverbs, and metaphors . When it is limited to certain passages, they may be termed PURPLE PATCHES or PURPLE PASSAGES, standing out from the rest of the work.

Purple prose is criticized for desaturating the meaning in an author's text by overusing melodramatic and fanciful descriptions. As there is no precise rule or absolute definition of what constitutes purple prose, deciding if a text, passage, or complete work has fallen victim is a somewhat subjective decision. According to Paul West 's words, "...a certain amount of sass to speak up for prose that's rich, succulent and full of novelty. Purple is immoral, undemocratic and insincere; at best artsy, at worst the exterminating angel of depravity."


* 1 Origins * 2 Examples * 3 See also * 4 References


The term _purple prose_ is derived from a reference by the Roman poet Horace
(Quintus Horatius Flaccus, 65–8 BC) who wrote in his _Ars Poetica _ (lines 14–21):

Inceptis grauibus plerumque et magna professis PURPUREUS, late qui splendeat, unus et alter adsuitur pannus, cum lucus et ara Dianae et properantis aquae per amoenos ambitus agros aut flumen Rhenum aut pluuius describitur arcus; sed nunc non erat his locus. Et fortasse cupressum scis simulare; quid hoc, si fractis enatat exspes nauibus, aere dato qui pingitur? "Weighty openings and grand declarations often Have one or two PURPLE patches tacked on, that gleam Far and wide, when Diana 's grove and her altar, The winding stream hastening through lovely fields, Or the river Rhine
, or the rainbow’s being described. There’s no place for them here. Perhaps you know how To draw a cypress tree: so what, if you’ve been given Money to paint a sailor plunging from a shipwreck In despair?"


Liz Bureman explains purple prose while intentionally using purple prose in the explanation itself:

"On occasion, one finds oneself immersed in the literary throes of a piece of prose where there is very little in the way of advancement of the plot or development of the characters, but the pages are still filled with words. Since the esteemed author has allowed their writing to take a turn for the dry and dull, they gallantly attempt to overcompensate for the lack of stimulation by indulging in elaborate turns of phrase."


* Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest * Euphuism * Order of the Occult Hand


* ^ "A Word a Day – purple prose". _Wordsmith.org_. Retrieved 26 December 2014. * ^ West, Paul (15 December 1985). "IN DEFENSE OF PURPLE PROSE". _New York Times_. Retrieved 26 December 2014. * ^ Nixon, Cheryl (2008-12-30). _Novel Definitions_. Broadview Press. pp. 194–. ISBN 9781770482074 . Retrieved 19 May 2013. * ^ Macrone, Michael (1994-05-18). _It\'s Greek to Me_. HarperCollins. pp. 147–. ISBN 9780062720443 . Retrieved 19 May 2013.

* ^ Horace
(18 BC). Ars Poetica. Lines 14–21. * ^ HORATII FLACCI ARS POETICA - epistulae 3 - Translated by A. S. Kline, 2005

* ^ _Alternative translation_: "Your opening shows great promise, and yet flashy PURPLE patches; as when describing a sacred grove, or the altar of Diana , or a stream meandering through fields, or the river Rhine
, or a rainbow; but this was not the place for them. If you can realistically render a cypress tree, would you include one when commissioned to paint a sailor in the midst of a shipwreck?" * ^ Bureman, Liz. “How to Know If Your Prose Is Purple.” The Write Practice, Wordpress, 20 Jan. 2014, thewritepractice.com/purple-prose/. Accessed 1 Mar. 2017.

* Coles Editorial Board, Dictionary of Literary Terms, Rama Brothers, 2001.

_ Look up PURPLE PROSE _ in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

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