Guide to Literary Terms

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What is a prologue?

A prologue is a preface that precedes a literary work.

Prologue

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Last Updated on February 25, 2021, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 128

Prologue - the opening section of a longer work. It also means the preface or introductory part of a novel, long poem, or play.

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The term is from the Greek prologos formed by pro, meaning “before,” and logos, meaning “speech.”

In ancient Greek tragedy, the prologue was the part of a play that set forth the subject of the drama before the chorus entered. Prologues were common in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, usually in verse—except for plays, when a chorus was used.

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The most famous example of a prologue in English is Chaucer’s “General Prologue” in The Canterbury Tales. In this, Chaucer provides a background and setting for what is to follow as well as detailed sketches of the characters.

see: epilogue

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Latest answer posted April 16, 2013, 3:54 pm (UTC)

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