What is Analepsis/meaning/concept/elaboration

When telling a story, the chronological sequence of the narrative plays an important role. Often, in literary creation and in cinema , the events described are interrupted to tell something from the past and when this happens, analepsis is mentioned.

Modalities and examples

In analepsis there is always a reference to the past. This throwback has two versions or modes: flashback and racconto.

Flashback consists of an abrupt interruption of the plot in which a memory of the past momentarily appears and then the story continues in the present (the term flash means appearance and disappearance and back means backwards). Therefore, it is a momentary return to the past. Analepsis

In the world of cinema there are some classic examples: Alfred Hitchcok’s “Marnie, Confessions of a Thief”, “Pulp Fiction: Time of Violence ” by Quentin Tarantino or “How beautiful it is to live!” by Frank Capra.

In racconto there is also a return to the past, but it is a more prolonged retrospection in time. Thus, firstly , the action of the present is interrupted, then something that has already happened is told in detail and, finally, the story told returns to the moment of the initial interruption.

The novel “O Caminho” by Miguel Delibes and the television series “Those Wonderful Years” are two examples of the narrative technique of racconto.

With these narrative resources the creator can seek various effects: that the story has greater coherence , that readers or viewers have relevant information to understand the course of events, that a character’s past is known or that the plot’s interest is maintained .

The opposite effect to analepsis is prolepsis, but it is better known by the English term flashforward

With this narrative feature, the present moment is interrupted to announce an event that has not yet occurred. After the interruption destined for the future, the narrative returns to the present moment.

An illustrative example is the novel “O tunnel” by Ernesto Sábato, since in this story the reader knows from the beginning that the protagonist will commit a murder .

Both analepsis and its opposite effect are anachronies, that is, they are temporary leaps in which the narrator interrupts the story‘s development to tell earlier or later events.

Both forms of temporary alteration allow the story to have greater dynamism and thus arouse the interest of the reader or viewer.

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