Types of prose.

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Short story is a prose narrative of limited length. In one sense the short story is as old as any literary form and must have existed for thousands of years before the art of writing was known. Possibly the oldest recorded example is the Egyptian tale of “The Two Brothers”, dating from around 3200 B.C., and from that time to this a flow of short narratives has been unbroken. Short stories may contain description, dialogue or commentary. But the most crucial feature is that they have a compact concentrated narrative with detailed character drawing. Short stories are for instance: “To built a Fire” by Jack London or “Well- lighted Place” by Ernest Hemingway.

Novel is a prose narrative on a large scale. Like the short story, the novel defies accurate definition both because it includes so many different types and possibilities and because of the essential but unfixable elements of length. Extended narratives in prose have been known almost since the dawn of literature. The novel is unquestionably the dominant literary form at present, both in quantity and quality. In quantity its only rival is the magazine short story. Millions of people who would not think of reading any other form of literature regularly read a considerable quantity of novels and short stories. But qualitatively, too, the novel is I n the lead. When one thinks of present- day writers who are likely to be future “classics”, it is almost invariably men like Mann and Faulkner- novelists- who came to mind. If the last hundred years had to have a special designation, they might well be called the age of the novel. Novels are for example: J.K. Rowling`s “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Helen Fielding`s “Bridget Jones’s Diary”.

Fable is a short allegorical tale conveying a moral or a principle of behaviour. The characters are usually animals talking like human beings, but keeping their animal traits. Often the moral is appended in a form of a proverb. The fable itself might be called an acted- out proverb. The earliest fables explain some feature of an animal, for instance why crows are black, and establish certain animal characteristics- the fox as sly, the lion as dignified. Later fables, the product of a more sophisticated culture, use animals to teach a moral lesson or to satirize human beings. The earliest extant fables come from Greece and India, the oldest Western examples being the fables of Aesop. In earlier use the term fable often means merely “narrative” or “plot”.

Parable is a brief narrative (especially in the Bible) designed to illustrate a religious truth or teach a lesson.
Tale is a story that sets forth strange and wonderful events in more or less bare summary, without detailed character drawing. The goal is revelation of the marvellous rather than revelation of character (e.g. “Jack and the Beanstalk”- and English folk tale in which the marvellous beanstalk and giant is more important than Jack’s personality).

Fairy tale is a short story in which there occurs some supernatural or magical event. The characters, who are neither individualized nor localized, are often not even given names, being called merely “a king”, “a queen”, or “a princess”, or “a poor farmer”. Fairy tales are about fortunes and misfortunes of a hero or heroine who, having experienced adventures of more or less supernatural kind, lives happily ever after. Magic, charms, disguise and spells are some of the major ingredients of such stories. The fairy tale always has a happy ending: virtue is rewarded. The most famous collections of fairy tales are those by Hans Christian Andersen (Danish), Basile (Italian), the Grimm brothers (German), Keightley and Croker (English), Perrault (French).

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