This is the introduction to a special issue of Novel, “The Prosaic Imaginary,” edited by John Frow and Vanessa Smith. The editors ask the question: what is the relationship between the novel's prosaic subject matter and novel reading as an everyday activity? Both parts of this question make familiar assumptions about the novel (that it thematizes the mundane world; that its rise is associated with middle-class literacy and, increasingly, with mass literacy), which we want not so much to question as to explore in greater depth and in their relation to each other. Thus we pose a set of corollary questions: How do the forms of attention and imagining that are fostered by the extended form of the novel correspond to the attention and temporality of everyday life? How are the materiality and... mobility of the book (typically a small and portable object) bound up with the kinds of object-worlds the novel imagines? And what kind of theory of the novel can best account for its prosaic quality? We talk about prosaic imaginaries in the plural because we take it as given that the novel form develops a plurality of ways of imagining the secular universe; and the concept of the imaginary also helps us to think about the mundane fantasies with which readers invest their activity.