Prose Fiction – An Overview



1.0 INTRODUCTION                                                                       1

1.1 Prose                                                                                            2

1.1.1 Structure                                                                                    3

1.1.2 Types                                                                                         4

1.2 Fiction                                                                                          5

1.2.1 Genre Fiction                                                                             6

1.2.2 Literary fiction                                                                           7

1.2.3 Realism                                                                                     8

1.3 Prose fiction                                                                                 9

1.3.1 Prose Fiction and History                                                            11

2.0 ORIGINS OF PROSE FICTION                                                 13

2.1 Origin                                                                                           13

2.2 The Epic                                                                                       14

2.2.1 The Epic of Gilgamesh                                                                15

2.3 The Bible                                                                                      16

2.4 Romance                                                                                      17

2.5 Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375)                                                    19

2.6 Geoffrey Chaucer                                                                          20

3.0 CHARACTERISTICS OF PROSE FICTION                              21

3.1 Verisimilitude                                                                               21

3.2 Time and Space                                                                             22

3.3 Volume                                                                                        24

3.4 Atmosphere                                                                                  25

3.5 Tone                                                                                             26

4.0 TYPES OF PROSE FICTION                                                     26

5.0 ELEMENTS OF PROSE FICTION                                             29

6.0 PROSE FICTION AND THE NOVEL                                         33

6.1 Narrative                                                                                      33

6.2 The Novel                                                                                     34

6.2.1 The English Novel                                                                      36

7.0 SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION                                               37

7.1 Summary                                                                                      37

7.2 Conclusion                                                                                    38



This article introduces you to a popular literary genre, prose fiction. As the name implies, it is presented in prose form and it is an imaginative art. This means that it is a product of the writer’s imagination. In prose fiction, the writer tells a fictitious story to his readers to educate or entertain or to do both. In this unit, we are going to define prose fiction. This definition will guide our understanding of, not just the words “prose” and “fiction” but, prose fiction as a genre of literature. You will also be acquainted with the earliest forms of prose fiction.

I will start our definition of prose fiction with the definition of the two key words, “prose” and “fiction”. Thereafter, we will try to explain prose fiction as it relates to this course, which is as a literary genre.

Prose fiction is an artistic work that “has a personal narrative, a hero to identify with fictional inventions, style, and suspense – in short anything that might be handled with the rather personal ventures of creativity and artistic freedom”. It may exaggerate or distort facts or the story may be completely an invention of the writer. It depends on the style of the writer and or what the writer wants to achieve. The story in prose fiction is invented by the writer but is presented in a realistic manner.

Prose fiction, whether in the form of the novel or the short story, is unarguably the most popular and widely consumed literary genre. One only has to see the proliferation of bookstalls at railway stations and airports, for example, and the predominance of novels over other forms of writing made available in such locations to realise the appeal of fiction.