For faster navigation, this Iframe is preloading the Wikiwand page for Purple prose.

Purple prose

In literary criticism, purple prose is overly ornate prose text that may disrupt a narrative flow by drawing undesirable attention to its own extravagant style of writing, thereby diminishing the appreciation of the prose overall.[1] Purple prose is characterized by the excessive use of adjectives, adverbs, and metaphors. When it is limited to certain passages, they may be termed purple patches or purple passages, standing out from the rest of the work.

Purple prose is criticized for desaturating the meaning in an author's text by overusing melodramatic and fanciful descriptions. As there is no precise rule or absolute definition of what constitutes purple prose, deciding if a text, passage, or complete work has fallen victim is a somewhat subjective decision. According to Paul West, "It takes a certain amount of sass to speak up for prose that's rich, succulent and full of novelty. Purple is immoral, undemocratic and insincere; at best artsy, at worst the exterminating angel of depravity."[2]

Origins

The term purple prose is derived from a reference by the Roman poet Horace[3][4] (Quintus Horatius Flaccus, 65–8 BC) who wrote in his Ars Poetica (lines 14–21):[5]

See also

  • Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, to find "the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels"
  • Concision, a communication principle of eliminating redundancy
  • Description, one of four rhetorical modes, along with exposition, argumentation, and narration
  • Elegant variation, unnecessary use of synonyms
  • Euphuism, deliberate excess of literary devices fashionable in 1580s English prose
  • Order of the Occult Hand, a group of journalists who sneak the phrase "It was as if an occult hand had…" into published copy
  • Verbosity, in which a speech or writing uses more words than is necessary

Notes

  1. ^ "A Word a Day – purple prose". Wordsmith.org. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  2. ^ West, Paul (15 December 1985). "In Defense of Purple Prose". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  3. ^ Nixon, Cheryl (2008). Novel Definitions. Broadview Press. pp. 194–. ISBN 978-1770482074. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
  4. ^ Macrone, Michael (1994). It's Greek to Me. HarperCollins. pp. 147–. ISBN 978-0062720443. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
  5. ^ Horace (18 BC). Ars Poetica. Lines 14–21.
  6. ^ Kline, A. S. (2005). "Horatti Flacci Ars Poetica – epistulae 3". Retrieved June 17, 2019.
  7. ^ Alternative translation:

    Your opening shows great promise, and yet flashy
    purple patches; as when describing
    a sacred grove, or the altar of Diana,
    or a stream meandering through fields,
    or the river Rhine, or a rainbow;
    but this was not the place for them. If you can realistically render
    a cypress tree, would you include one when commissioned to paint
    a sailor in the midst of a shipwreck?[original research?]

References

  • Coles Editorial Board, Dictionary of Literary Terms, Rama Brothers, 2001.
{{bottomLinkPreText}} {{bottomLinkText}}
Purple prose
Listen to this article

This browser is not supported by Wikiwand :(
Wikiwand requires a browser with modern capabilities in order to provide you with the best reading experience.
Please download and use one of the following browsers:

This article was just edited, click to reload
This article has been deleted on Wikipedia (Why?)

Back to homepage

Please click Add in the dialog above
Please click Allow in the top-left corner,
then click Install Now in the dialog
Please click Open in the download dialog,
then click Install
Please click the "Downloads" icon in the Safari toolbar, open the first download in the list,
then click Install
{{::$root.activation.text}}

Install Wikiwand

Install on Chrome Install on Firefox
Don't forget to rate us

Tell your friends about Wikiwand!

Gmail Facebook Twitter Link

Enjoying Wikiwand?

Tell your friends and spread the love:
Share on Gmail Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Buffer

Our magic isn't perfect

You can help our automatic cover photo selection by reporting an unsuitable photo.

This photo is visually disturbing This photo is not a good choice

Thank you for helping!


Your input will affect cover photo selection, along with input from other users.

X

Get ready for Wikiwand 2.0 🎉! the new version arrives on September 1st! Don't want to wait?