Literary and Non-Literary Prose

Topics: Literature, Prose, Writing Pages: 3 (732 words) Published: September 23, 2012


Literary prose is the form of written language that is not organized according to the formal patterns of verse, except for grammatical rules. Earlier, all works of prose were considered literary. Now, they are limited to Novels, essays, short stories, and works of criticism, biography, fiction et al.

Most prose is non-literary, for example scholarly and scientific books, papers and articles. Guidebooks, manuals, laws and most letters are also non-literary. Literary Prose is the ordinary form of spoken and written language whose unit is the sentence, rather than the line as it is in poetry. The term applies to all expressions in language that do not have a regular rhythmic pattern. The term is from the Latin prosa, meaning “in phrase” which was derived from prosa oratio, meaning “straight, direct, unadorned speech,” which itself was derived from prorsus, meaning “straightforward or direct” and can be further traced to pro versusm, meaning “turned forward.”

Although Literary Prose will have some sort of rhythm and some devices of repetition and balance, these are not governed by a regularly sustained formal arrangement, the significant unit being the sentence rather than the line. Some uses of the term include spoken language as well, but it is usually more helpful to maintain a distinction at least between written prose and everyday speech, if not formal oratory. Prose has as its minimum requirement some degree of continuous coherence beyond that of a mere list. The adjectives prosaic and prosy have a derogatory meaning of dullness and ordinariness; the neutral adjective is simply ‘prose’, as in ‘prose writings’.

Literary Prose fulfills innumerable functions, and it can attain many different kinds of excellence. A well-argued legal judgment, a lucid scientific paper, a readily grasped set of technical instructions all represent...
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