Definition of Foreword

A foreword is an intro for a book, written by an associate or author. The word ‘foreword’ appeared in English in 1842, but its origin remains unclear. It’s a part of a book’s beginning, shedding light on the book’s reason and context. Though similar to a preface, there’s a difference. The author writes the preface, while someone else writes the foreword. Both serve different purposes. The foreword informs readers why the book exists, while the preface gives clues about the author’s writing process and their intentions.

The foreword plays a crucial role, setting the stage for the reader’s understanding and creating anticipation for what lies ahead. It acts as a friendly guide, helping readers connect with the book’s essence and appreciate its significance. As the first stepping stone, it paves the way for a delightful reading journey, making the book all the more meaningful and enjoyable.

Examples of Foreword in Literature

Example #1

Editor’s Foreword from Oedipus at Colonus Translated by Eamon Grennan and Rachel Kitzinger

The Greek Tragedy in New Translations is based on the conviction that poets like Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides can only be properly rendered by translators who are themselves poets. Scholars may, it is true, produce useful and perceptive versions. But our most urgent present need is for a re-creation of these plays—as though they had been written, freshly and greatly, by masters fully at home in the English of our own times.”

Although this is just a passage from Editor’s Foreword, it shows that a difference between a preface and a foreword is generally about who writes it. This part of the foreword shows that the editor wants the readers to know why this translation of Oedipus at Colonus, a play by Sophocles, differs from other books. Hence, he informs the readers about the contemporary poets of Sophocles, talking about the scholars. He also informs the readers about the significance of this issue of the play in the English language.

Example #2

Foreword of The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway The Finca Vigia Edition by John, Patrick, and Gregory Hemingway

When Papa and Mary first rented in 1940 the Finca Vigía which was to be his home for the next twenty-two years until his death, there was still a real country on the south side. This country no longer exists. It was not done in by middle-class real estate developers like Chekhov’s cherry orchard, which might have been its fate in Puerto Rico or Cuba without the Castro revolution, but by the startling growth of the population of poor people and their shack housing which is such a feature of all the Greater Antilles, no matter what their political persuasion.

This is the foreword of The Complete Short Stories of Hemingway by Hemingway’s family members. It means that the writers of foreword are then two as the names suggest. This passage informs the readers about the writers, their relationship with the author. Their objective of writing this foreword is to express how they feel about their father. It shows that they see him writing significant stories like that of Anton Chekhov and know that he has lived in Cuba and has loved poverty. It means that they are stating the main aim of this collection of short stories.

Example #3

Foreword by Mary Helen Washington to Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston

Black male critics were much harsher in their assessments of the novel. From the beginning of her career, Hurston was severely criticized for not writing fiction in the protest tradition. Sterling Brown said in 1936 of her earlier book Mules and Men that it was not bitter enough, that it did not depict the harsher side of black life in the South, that Hurston made black southern life appear easygoing and carefree. Alain Locke, dean of black scholars and critics during the Harlem Renaissance, wrote in his yearly review of the literature for Opportunity magazine that Hurston’s Their Eyes was simply out of step with the more serious trends of the times.

This forward appeared at the beginning of the novel of Zora Neal Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God. The very first word of this foreword shows that the novel is based on racial discrimination and segregation as it shows how African American critics attacked the novel when it appeared the first time. This also shows the objective of this foreword to attack the author how she has diverted from the existing trend of those times.

Example #4

Foreword by Edwidge Danticat to Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston

Janie Crawford is able to retrace her steps, disembark from her own ship, come home, and remember because she has been close to death but has lived a very full life. So in spite of the judgmental voices that greet her upon her return, in spite of the “mass cruelty” invoked by her prodigal status, Janie has earned the right to be the griot of her own tale, the heroine of her own quest, the “member” of her own remembering.

This passage occurs in the foreword written by Edwidge Denticat at the beginning of the novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God. This foreword appreciates Janie’s character and her actions, stating that this aspect of the novel has rather win laurels. It also means that Edwidge Denticat wants to demonstrate the objective of the novel why it is a new trend in the fiction writing industry of that time.

Functions of Foreword

The foreword in literature serves multiple functions. Beyond explaining why the book exists, it highlights its relevance to the present and distinguishes it from other works of its time. When readers delve into the author’s objectives, they are provided with a guiding beacon that helps them unravel various aspects of the literary piece. The foreword helps readers understand the book better and appreciate the author’s unique perspective.. As a valuable companion, it enhances the journey through the book, making it an enlightening and immersive adventure for every eager reader.