Foreword Features, Functions, Examples, and Parts

Alexander Pearson

A Foreword It is the initial writing that is placed before the complete content of a work. It is a short text that serves to guide the reader or to expose some outstanding fact of the book that arouses greater interest in the public. The prologue can be developed by the author of the work or by another person.

The word prologue has its origin in the Greek term prologues, whose prefix pro means "before", and logos which is "word, treatise or speech." According to the above, a prologue becomes the text that is written before the speech..

Example of a prologue

Now, a prologue is considered a paratext because of its location, that is, it is part of the surroundings or periphery of the work. The fact of being located before the central content facilitates its understanding and clarifies the contribution that the book may have.

On the other hand, the prologue is prepared after the work has been completed. Only in this way can its author or prologue highlight an aspect or highlight a particular point. A prologue focuses on arguing, interpreting, informing or persuading the reader in relation to the treatment of the main topic.

The prologue is part of the structure of a book, but not in every work its presence is necessary. When a work or book has several editions or has been very successful, it may have more than one prologue. These are ordered one after the other, you can include that of the author and those that the foremen have done throughout all the reprints.

Article index

  • 1 Characteristics of the prologue
    • 1.1 Location
    • 1.2 About quantity
    • 1.3 Authorship
    • 1.4 Extension
    • 1.5 Structure
    • 1.6 Language
    • 1.7 Chronology
  • 2 Function
  • 3 Parts of a prologue
    • 3.1 Introduction or start
    • 3.2 Development or body
    • 3.3 Conclusion or closure
  • 4 Step by step to make a prologue
    • 4.1 Complete reading of the work
    • 4.2 Research about the author and the work
    • 4.3 Selection of information
    • 4.4 Backup
    • 4.5 Start writing
  • 5 Examples of forewords
    • 5.1 Foreword by Gabriel García Márquez to the work Four Years Aboard Myself by Eduardo Zalamea:
    • 5.2 Foreword by Mario Vargas Llosa to his novel La casa verde
    • 5.3 Foreword by Mario Benedetti of his work Love, women and life
  • 6 References

Prolog features


The prologue is always located between the first pages of the book. Generally, it is the first sheet that appears after the index. In any case, it has to be before the beginning of the work itself..

About quantity

Most books have only one foreword. However, you can find very famous books that, in each reprint or reissue, a new prologue is added, generally written by some relevant person on the subject..

In this way, books will be found with the original prologue that the first edition had and one, two or more additional prologues added later..

There will also be books considered classics of world literature, which will have different prologues depending on the publishing house that prints them or the market for which said edition is intended..

For example: Lewis Carroll's stories with a foreword by Jorge Luis Borges for the Latin American market.


As mentioned in previous paragraphs, the prologue of a work can be written by the author of the same or by a person who is called a prologue..

However, the prologue is usually a subject with knowledge and interest in the content of the book that has been developed. In this case, the narration of the prologue is done in the third person. Usually the works of new writers are prefaced by an experienced intellectual.


Foreword written by Mario Vargas Llosa in his work The city and the Dogs:

"I started to write The city and the Dogs in the autumn of 1958, in Madrid, in a tavern in Menéndez y Pelayo called El Jute, which overlooked the Retiro park, and I finished it in the winter of 1961, in an attic in Paris ...

"... The manuscript was rolling like a banshee from publisher to publisher until, thanks to my friend the French Hispanist Claude Couffon, it arrived at the Barcelona hands of Carlos Barral, who was directed by Seix Barral ...".


The prologue is short, although in some cases it may vary according to the information and arguments included. The content may be based on some information about the author's life, curious details of the work or the motivations for its development..


Foreword by Jorge Luis Borges for Pedro Paramo from Juan Rulfo:

“… Devoted to reading, loneliness and writing manuscripts, which he revised, corrected and destroyed, he did not publish his first book -The Burning Plain, 1953- until almost forty years old ...

“… From the moment the narrator, who is looking for Pedro Páramo, his father, comes across a stranger who declares that they are brothers and that all the townspeople are called Páramo, the reader already knows that he has entered fantastic text ... whose gravitation already catches him ....


The prologue is not a fictional text, therefore it must follow a logical and coherent order. Relaxed language can be allowed, but in no case should it spread out, beat around the bush, or spread out too much.

It must be concise but at the same time fully explain the structure of the book as such, the reason for its divisions and subdivisions, the reason for the choice of certain aspects for the study or development of the subject.

Finally, the prologue can include thanks to people and institutions that have collaborated with the author for the development of the topic..


The language of the prologue must be clear and precise, in order to facilitate the understanding by the reader. However, it may be the case that the prologue uses a complex or technical vocabulary, that will depend on the content of the work and the field to which it belongs, be it literary, political, scientific or technological..


A well-written foreword allows the reader to have a good prior notion of the work. Source:

Foreword by New century medicine:

“Doctors are aware of the true revolution that is operating in the scientific base of our practice, accompanied by access to new diagnostic and therapeutic resources unimaginable a short time ago ...

“… From the eyes of the patients, medicine has become dehumanized. Doctors listen little, arrogant of their knowledge or hurried by their commitments, far from the nostalgic model of the family doctor. For some segments, medicine is seen as big business. For others it is an unattainable resource ... ".


An outstanding feature within the prologues is the use of dates in chronological order on information regarding the author and the historical, social and political time in which the work was conceived. The editorial process and the difficulties that arose in previous editions are also included..


César Antonio Molina's foreword on the Mexican writer Alfonso Reyes:

"... The Monterrey writer arrived in Spain in 1914, carrying a personal tragedy, the death of his father, General Bernardo Reyes, and a brief but intense diplomatic life developed in France before the First World War ...

"... During the early days of Madrid, and as an exile, Alfonso Reyes was able to develop an enormous literary, journalistic and scholarly work alongside figures of the stature of José Ortega y Gasset, Juan Ramón Jiménez, Manuel Azaña ...

"Some time later, from the embassies of France, Argentina and Brazil that he presided over, and then in Mexico, he never hesitated to return with concrete actions the solidarity received during his difficult years in Madrid ...".


Writing a foreword requires full knowledge of the writer's work. Source:

The function of the prologue is to give the work extra information. This type of writing serves to clarify some point or aspect that is of interest to the reader and thereby persuade him to have his full attention. The prologue is an additional contribution of the work and its reading is not mandatory.

On the other hand, the prologue allows the reader to understand exactly the reasons that led the author to make the book, as well as to know the various stages he went through when conceiving it. In addition, you can provide data about the writer in relation to their relatives and their qualities.

Finally, the prologue can carry other intentions, such as comparing the present work with previous ones and explaining their differences..

It can then be said that the prologue can have an "inspirational" function (it tells what inspired him to write the work) or a "comparative" function (it refers to other works or authors).

Parts of a prologue

The prologues are developed under the guidelines of the writer, that means that they do not necessarily have to have fixed parts or unique structures. However, due to their essayistic nature, they often consist of the following stages:

Introduction or start

In this first part of the prologue, the information that opens the way to reading the rest of the work is presented. If it is written by the author of the book himself, it can be described how he came to conceive the work, where he was or the reasons that led him to do it.

Now, if it is a prologue writer who writes it, he or she can explain how he met the author, when he came into contact with the book or why he considers the work to be relevant..

Development or body

In this part of the prologue the author of the work or the foreword explains the arguments and the evaluation of the book. It is in the development where the reader is given the necessary reasons to be interested in the total content.

The development of the prologue can be supported by a textual quotation that is related to what is being written or reviews and comments from other people can also be incorporated.

Conclusion or closure

It is the final part of the prologue, here the prologue culminates his arguments. The ideas that are exposed are an invitation or encouragement to the reader to stay "glued" to the work.

Step by step to make a prologue

Here are the steps to take when making a prologue:

Complete reading of the work

The first step in making a prologue is to fully read the play and understand the message it conveys. By reading the book, the necessary knowledge is obtained to start this type of text, hence the prologue is written after the work has been finished..

Research about the author and the work

The prologue writer must be immersed in the data of the author's life and in all aspects related to the development of the book to be prologue. Your research will help you expand your knowledge and provide reliable information..

Information selection

Once the prologue writer knows about the author and the work, he must think about what he is going to write or say, that leads him to establish a type of position before the book that he is going to preface. This means that a selection must be made of the most relevant information and the data that may be of most interest to the reading public must be chosen..


The prologue can be made by the same author, or by another connoisseur of his work. Source:

This step is related to the sources or the support that the prologue uses to reaffirm his position before the work. In such a way, that you can help yourself by knowing the historical context in which the book was developed, going to some appointments and taking into account the opinion of specialists in relation to the central theme of the work..

Start writing

When the aforementioned steps have been carried out, the prologue begins to be written. The development of these texts must be based on a cultured language, clear, precise and easily understood by the reader. Finally, the data investigated about the author and the work itself must be taken into account..

Foreword examples

Prologue by Gabriel García Márquez to the work Four years aboard myself from Eduardo Zalamea:

“With your hand on your heart, answer yourself: Who was Eduardo Zalamea Borda? Don't worry: neither does the vast majority of Colombians. However, an unusual novel written at the age of twenty, and more than thirty years of journalism exercised with a practical mastery and exemplary ethical rigor, should be enough to remember him as one of the most intelligent and helpful Colombian writers of this century ...

“He was a distinguished member of the local aristocracy of arts and letters, who at the age of sixteen threw the ballast of his parchments overboard and went to live off his hands in the salt mines of La Guajira. Fruit of that life experience was Four years aboard myself, a novel that broke the academic diving suit of the genre in Colombia ... ".

Mario Vargas Llosa's foreword to his novel The green House

“I was led to invent this story by the memories of a brothel hut, painted green, that colored the sand of Piura in 1946, and the dazzling Amazon of adventurers, soldiers, Aguarunas, Huambisas and Shapras, missionaries and rubber and fur traders that I met in 1958, on a trip of a few weeks through the Alto Marañón ...

“But, probably, the greatest debt I incurred in writing it was to William Faulkner, in whose books I learned about the sorceries of form in fiction… I wrote this novel in Paris, between 1962 and 1965, suffering and enjoying like a lunatic, in a little hotel in the Latin Quarter the Hotel Wetter and in an attic on rue de Tournon ... ".

Mario Benedetti's foreword to his work Love, women and life

“Since, in my distant adolescence, I faced Love, women and death, At that time, the most popular book by the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), I came into contradiction with the subtle proposal suggested by the three words of that title ...

“… These days I reread the entire book, with eyes almost sixty years older, and, despite placing it, now consciously, in its temporal sphere, I once again experienced that old sense of rejection. Love is one of the emblematic elements of life. Brief or extended, spontaneous or painstakingly constructed, it is in any way a heyday in human relationships ...

“… From so much reviewing galleys of my two Inventories, I realized that it was there and that it was only necessary to rescue it, separating it from so many other contents, certainly less inviting and comforting than love ".


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