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Facsimile of the original title page for William Congreve's The Way of the World published in 1700, on which the epigraph from Horace's Satires can be seen in the bottom quarter.

In literature, an epigraph is a phrase, quotation, or poem that is set at the beginning of a document, monograph or section thereof.[1] The epigraph may serve as a preface to the work; as a summary; as a counter-example; or as a link from the work to a wider literary canon,[2] with the purpose of either inviting comparison or to enlisting a conventional context.[3]

A book may have an overall epigraphy that is part of the front matter, and/or one for each chapter as well.

Contents

ExamplesEdit

 
Epigraph, consisting of an excerpt from the book itself, William Morris's The House of the Wolfings
 
Epigraph and dedication page, The Waste Land

Fictional quotationsEdit

Some writers use as epigraphs fictional quotations that purport to be related to the fiction of the work itself. Examples include:

In filmsEdit

In literatureEdit

See alsoEdit

  • Epigram, a brief, interesting, memorable, and sometimes surprising or satirical statement
  • Incipit, the first few words of a text, employed as an identifying label
  • Flavor text, applied to games and toys
  • Prologue, an opening to a story that establishes context and may give background
  • Keynote, the first non-specific talk on a conference spoken by an invited (and usually famous) speaker in order to sum up the main theme of the conference.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Epigraph". University of Michigan. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
  2. ^ "Definition of Epigraph". Literary Devices. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
  3. ^ Bridgeman, Teresa. Negotiating the New in the French Novel: Building Contexts for Fictional Worlds. Page No-129: Psychology Press, 1998. ISBN 0415131251. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
  4. ^ Clancy, Tom (1991). The Sum of All Fears. London: Harper Collins Publishing.
  5. ^ Koontz, Dean. Podcast Episode 25: Book of Counted Sorrows 1 (Podcast). Retrieved July 9, 2011.

BibliographyEdit

  • Barth, John (1984). The Friday Book. pp. xvii–xviii.

External linksEdit

  • Epigraphic: an ever-growing, searchable collection of literary epigraphs
  • Epigraph at Literary Devices