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Analysing a Prose

By | September 2011
Page 1 of 31
analysing a prose●



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Analysing prose
Objectives
To establish a strategy for approaching unseen prose texts To practise close reading of prose texts To look at examples of commentaries on prose texts

Part 1 The commentary

Analysing prose is not so very different from analysing poetry. In both you have to look at literary techniques, at choice of language, imagery, structure and so on, but these may be used in different ways to achieve different effects in prose. You may have to read even more carefully when studying prose passages as the techniques used may not be so readily detected. Most of the prose passages you will be asked to analyse will be extracts from longer pieces of work, rather than complete texts, although occasionally very short essays or stories are set which are complete. When writing your commentary on a prose text you will need to examine closely the writer’s style in order to analyse the way the language is used. You will need to be aware of the features to look for and the ways in which the author’s choice of style can influence meaning and effect.

“A writer’s personality is his manner of being in the world: his writing style is the unavoidable trace of that manner.” Zadie Smith

Examining writers’ styles
Throughout this book you are being asked to think not only about what writers are saying – the content of their work – but also about how they write. This means examining the particular combination of literary devices, structures, and vocabulary which a writer uses and which go together to form that writer’s individual “style”. From your own reading you will know that some writers’ work is easy to recognize immediately because they have a distinctive “style”. However, it can be more difficult to explain exactly which characteristics make a writer’s style recognizable. As a student of literature, you will need to develop the ability...
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