Guide to Literary Terms

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What is a prologue?

A prologue is a preface that precedes a literary work.


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Last Updated May 25, 2023.

A prologue is an introductory section that precedes a long text. 

Prologue derives from the Greek word prologos, from pro (“before”) and logos (“speech”). 

The ancient Greek prologos described the first portion of a play in which a character, often a god, appeared alone onstage and delivered a monologue detailing the events before the play’s beginning. Prologues were also used in ancient Roman plays and were popular in European theater in the 17th and 18th centuries before becoming rarer in the 19th century. 

An example of a prologue can be found in Tennessee Williams’s The Glass Menagerie

see: monologuehomilyepilogue

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