A definitional discussion of literary prose, outlining its most prominent forms.
What is prose?
Prose literature does not maintain any consistent structural qualities in its composition, mostly relying on the straightforward use of words (usually divided into paragraphs) to convey statements. The vast majority of the literature that exists today is written in prose, although it has not always been the form most esteemed in various cultures. Like poetry, it may be used for lyric, dramatic or narrative purposes, though the latter is most common.
The form of prose literature most frequently encountered is the novel. This type of text arose in the 18th century in Europe; literary prose narratives which predate the novel or come from other cultural contexts are often classified as romances. These two types account for most of the prose fiction that may be studied on an English Literature course. However, non-fiction texts such as essays, letters and historical accounts are frequently appreciated as having literary value, especially under the influence of New Historicist discourse which endeavours to break down the dichotomy between ‘literary’ and ‘non-literary’ documents when looking at documents from particular historical periods.