Prologue (literature)

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The prologue ( Greek πρόλογος / prólogos / "the foreword, the foreword") means something like "foreword". It consists of the components “pro” (Greek “before”) and “logos” (Greek “word”). The epilogue describes the afterword accordingly .

A prologue is an introduction, preface or a preface. Erich Kästner , for example, was known for his forewords , who liked to preface his "cheerful novels" for adults with a detailed, ironic and sometimes self-critical foreword.

Similarly ironic is the famous foreword by Miguel de Cervantes to Don Quixote :

" Idle reader! - Without an oath you can believe me that I wish this book, the child of my spirit, were the most beautiful, loveliest and most intelligent that one can imagine. But I could not possibly have contravened the natural law that every Creature produces something similar to it; so what else could my sterile, uneducated mind produce than the story of a thin, withered and crabby son who deals with all kinds of thoughts that have never occurred to anyone before, just like one who was produced in a prison, where every discomfort is at home and every sad noise has its dwelling? "

In non-fiction and specialist literature there is very often a foreword on the first pages (it can also be headed with “To the guide”, “A word before”, etc.). Fixed rules on form and content do not apply. The author (s) of a book (as well as the editor (s) or third parties) can say something about the idea of ​​the book, its motives and goals. A preceding motto or quote and explanations on the structure and structure of the book, the literature and research situation and, if necessary, a new edition are also conceivable. Thanks are also possible to assistants, the publisher, editors, illustrators and translators. Occasionally something is said about the place of origin, about the hospitality of friends and relatives and about scholarships in connection with the work. After all, this may be the place to dedicate the book to someone named. At the end, a place and an approximate date (such as “in spring 2015”, “December 2013”) are often given, along with the name or names of the writer. Regardless of this, these topics can also be included in an introduction as the first chapter.

The prologue is used in various ways in the drama . Aristotle formally defines the prologue as the “whole part of the tragedy before the choir” (12, 1452b). In ancient prologue the actors appear, usually in iambic speech verses before the chorus draws ( parodos ): "Together with the parodos is the prologue to the exposure of, myth 'of the drama; the person, place and time of the action are fixed. With regard to their function, they form a unit, with regard to their form they are to be separated. "

A prologue is often used to explain the intention of the piece. The plot of the prologue can be connected to the play, but it can also introduce the topic separately from the actual drama . The prologue can be a dialogue between two or more characters in the drama, but it can also be a monologue by a person belonging to the play or a neutral person.

In the prologue of Goethe's Faust I , a bet is made between God and the devil as to whether Faust can be turned off the right path by the devil if God gives him a free hand. This gives the piece a framework and a reference to the Bible. The “exposition of my Faust” has “ some similarity with that of Job ”. In Faust the prologue is “a functional part of the drama”, “it introduces Faust's current situation and already sets the Faust-Mephisto plot in motion”. Hugo von Hofmannsthal uses a character for the "Prologue" in several dramas, who speaks introductory words to the audience.

With Bertolt Brecht , prologues often have the function of relativizing the plot and disillusioning the viewer. The model events on the stage are related to reality. In the play Mr. Puntila and his servant Matti , one of the actresses introduces the character and intention of the production to the audience. It is made clear that the stage character of the landlord represents a social class, not just an individual fate.

“Dear audience, the times are sad.
Smart who are worried and stupid who are carefree!
But if you don't laugh anymore, you're not over the hill
So we made a weird game.
Because we're showing here tonight
You a certain ancient animal
Estatium possessor, called landowner in German
Which animal, known to be very greedy and completely useless ... "

The word "prologue" has also found its way into other areas: For example, in many television series, especially sitcoms , there is a prologue before the opening credits , which is similar to the one described above. There is another example in cycling. On the first day of the Tour de France there is often a prologue , which is usually a short individual time trial that is already included in the overall standings.

Related topics

Correspondences in other areas:

Other components of the ancient drama:


Individual evidence

  1. ^ Beginning of the prologue to Don Quixote
  2. Quoted from the digital library .
  3. Michael Erler: Psychagogy and knowledge. In: Otfried Höffe (editor): Aristoteles: Poetik. Oldenbourg Akademieverlag 2009, ISBN 978-3-05-004452-1 , p. 138.
  4. Goethe zu Eckermann on January 18, 1825, quoted from: Goethe, Complete Works 6.1, Munich, Vienna 1986, p. 996.
  5. ^ Walter Hinck: The dramaturgy of the late Brecht. P. 31.
  6. Bertolt Brecht: Mr. Puntila and his servant Matti, BFA vol. 6, p. 285.