The Foreword It is a text that precedes a written work and offers the reader two elements: an introduction and first approach to the content of the work, and a presentation of its author. For example, Umberto Eco’s foreword to 1984 (novel written by George Orwell in 1949).
The prologues have an essayistic tone – they are never fictional – and their incorporation is not mandatory. They have a more or less limited extension and their author, in general, does not coincide with that of the work. The prologue is usually someone who knows the subject that is addressed in the text or its author. Thus, it provides extra information to the reader that improves their reading experience or that allows them to understand the context in which it was made and published. Although on other occasions, it may be the author of the work himself who writes the prologue.
The same written work can have more than one prologue in the same edition. These prologues can even be of different prologues. When this happens, it is specified in which year and to which edition each of the prologues corresponds.
Any written work can be accompanied by a prologue. Whether they are anthologies, books of poems or stories, novels, plays, essays, theses, academic books, scientific studies, compilations of chronicles or letters, film scripts.
Elements of the prologue
- Chronology. It can include a timeline on the content of the work or on the life and work of the author.
- Verbatim quotes. It usually includes fragments taken from the prologue work, to give greater weight to the arguments of the prologue.
- Personal appraisals. The prologue includes judgments, opinions or judgments about the prologue work.
- Third party considerations. It usually incorporates observations and comments made by other authors, critics or authorities regarding the prologue work.
The structure of the prologues
- Introduction. It includes information necessary to advance in the reading and comprehension of the prologue. The prologueist details how he met the author, how was his approach to the work, why he considers it transcendent and how was his approach to the text.
- Development. Arguments that support the appreciation of the prologue’s work are presented. To do this, he uses other people’s comments or verbatim quotes.
- Closing. The prologue seeks to stimulate the reader to embark on reading the work. For that, it uses ideas, images, comments and insights.
- Foreword by Jean Paul Sartre to The damned of the earthby Frantz Fanon
“When Fanon, on the contrary, says that Europe is plummeting to perdition, far from raising a cry of alarm, he makes a diagnosis. This doctor does not pretend or condemn her without recourse — other miracles have been seen — nor give her the means to heal; he checks that he is dying, from the outside, based on the symptoms he has been able to collect. As for curing her, no: he has other concerns; It doesn’t matter if it sinks or if it survives. That is why his book is scandalous (…) ”.
- Foreword by Julio Cortázar to Complete storiesby Edgar Allan Poe
“The year 1847 showed Poe battling ghosts, relapsing to opium and alcohol, clinging to an entirely spiritual adoration of Marie Louise Shew, who had won his affection during Virginia’s agony. She later said that ‘The bells’ were born from a dialogue between the two. He also recounted Poe’s daytime delusions, his imaginary tales of trips to Spain and France, his duels, his adventures. Mrs. Shew admired Edgar’s genius and had a deep regard for the man. (…) ”.
- Foreword by Ernesto Sábato to Never more, Book of the National Commission on Disappearance of Persons (Conadep)
“With sadness, with pain, we have fulfilled the mission entrusted to us at the time by the Constitutional President of the Republic. That work was very arduous, because we had to put together a dark puzzle, after many years of the events, when all traces have been deliberately erased, all documentation has been burned and buildings have even been demolished. We have had to base ourselves, then, on the complaints of the family members, on the statements of those who were able to get out of hell and even on the testimonies of repressors who, due to obscure motivations, approached us to say what they knew (…) ”.
- Foreword by Gabriel García Márquez to Habla Fide, by Gianni Mina
“Two things caught the attention of those of us who were hearing Fidel Castro for the first time. One was his terrible power of seduction. The other was the fragility of his voice. A hoarse voice that seemed breathless at times. A doctor who was listening to him made a tremendous dissertation on the nature of those losses, and concluded that even without Amazonian speeches like the one of that day, Fidel Castro was condemned to be without a voice within five years. Shortly thereafter, in August 1962, the forecast seemed to give its first alarm signal, when he fell silent after announcing in a speech the nationalization of North American companies. But it was a temporary mishap that was not repeated (…) ”.
- Foreword by Mario Vargas Llosa to the complete works of Julio Cortázar
“The effect of Hopscotch when it appeared in 1963, in the Spanish-speaking world, it was seismic. It removed to the foundations the convictions or prejudices that writers and readers had about the means and ends of the art of storytelling and extended the boundaries of the genre to unthinkable limits. Thanks to Hopscotch We learned that writing was a great way to have fun, that it was possible to explore the secrets of the world and language while having a great time, and that playing, you could probe mysterious strata of life that were forbidden to rational knowledge, logical intelligence, depths of the experience that no one can look into without serious risks, such as death and insanity. (…) ”.