What is Analepsis Characteristics types and examples


The analepsis also called flashback the already seen, is a narrative resource that consists of the interruption of the chronological sequence of events to insert events or scenes of previous occurrence. Although analepsis is common in literature, it is also used in television and film.

It is a sequence in time that moves into the past, recalling an event that has already occurred and reinforcing the action narrated in the present. Their functions depend on the dynamics of the story.

You can, for example, illustrate a character’s past or retrieve events whose knowledge is needed to provide internal coherence to the story.

Likewise, it can convey information about the character‘s background to readers or viewers. This gives an idea of ​​the character’s motives for making certain decisions over the course of the story.

In the end, the analepsis is the story of an internal conflict. Its use provides stimulation to the conflict, deepens the poignant effects, and allows the reader to empathize with the character.

In addition, another of its functions within the narrative is to increase tension. The author seeks, making mention of a past event, that readers want to know the secrets of the story that is told.

Characteristics of Analepsis

The main characteristic of the analepsis is that it always transports the sequence of the story to the past. The opposite effect is prolepsis (transfer of the action to the future).

In general, this type of time management helps build tension, heighten drama, and build great scenes.

In the case of analepsy, these mishaps in time are important because they add complexity and depth to the narrative. In addition, they can increase frames and create dynamic and complex characters.

On the other hand, it can occur as a sudden train of thoughts, a confusing dream, or a vivid memory. Furthermore, this can happen without warning in the narrative thread.

Types of Analepsis

Analepsis is classified as external, internal or mixed. Internals can be heterodiegetic and homodiegetic. In turn, the latter can be complete, iterative or repetitive.


The analysis is external when its scope goes back to a moment before the starting point of the original story. In these cases, the narration does not interfere with the events of the initial story.


The internal analepsis, unlike the external one, places its scope within the same primary story. The author begins the narrative and then returns to recount details he had “forgotten”.

heterodiegetic analepsy

In these cases, the content of the analysis is not thematically identified with the moment of action of the original or base story. That is, the content of the narrative is different from the main story.

homodiegetic analepsis

In homodiegetic internal analepsis, the content of the retrospective narrative coincides with that of the base story. Add-ons are used to fill in gaps in the story whose narration has been omitted at the appropriate time, and then retrieved to provide important information.

On the other hand, iterative ones do not aim to recover a singular fact, but refer to events or temporal segments similar to others already contained in the story.

In internal repetitive homodiegetic analepses , the story explicitly revolves around itself and alludes to its own past.


Mixed analgesia is one that has its scope at a time before the beginning of the main story. As for its breadth, it covers a period of time that ends within the original story.

Examples of Analepsis

the nap on tuesday

In the story ” The nap on Tuesday “By Gabriel García Márquez, the opening seems to follow a chronological order that is then broken by the account of a previous event mentioned in the
middle of the narration.

In this way, the time sequence of the story is interrupted, allowing the reader to begin assembling the pieces of the story in jigsaw puzzle fashion.

So the reader discovers that the poor woman and her daughter, both dressed in black, arrive in this nameless city to bring flowers to the grave. Only then do readers learn that the son was killed in an attempted robbery.

“The father started to sweat. The girl unbuttoned the laces on her left shoe, took off her heel and rested it on the counter. He did the same with his right. It all started on Monday of the previous week, at three in the morning and a few blocks away.

Mrs. Rebeca, a lonely widow who lived in a house full of difficulties and ends, felt through the drizzle that someone was trying to force the street door from outside.”

The Autumn of the Patriarch

Gabriel García Márquez’s novel The Autumn of the Patriarch belongs to a well-recognized subgenre of Latin American fiction: the “dictator” novel.

This work begins with the discovery of the body of the dictator that carrion birds have already become unrecognizable in the dilapidated presidential palace.

The story’s main character has lived for over a hundred years, and his story unfolds in six long, sparsely punctuated analepses, in which the narrative voices change without notice.

Each section opens with the opening moment of discovery to reveal a few different aspects of the past.

“He has a fever in the canyons, it doesn’t work. We never heard that phrase again until after the cyclone when he proclaimed a new amnesty for prisoners and authorized the return of all exiles except men of letters…”.

Analepsis and Prolepsis

In contrast to analepsis is the figure of speech  prolepsis , which means the opposite, even as its own prefixes make clear. Like analepsis, prolepsis is also a figure of syntax . The difference is that this last term in question will refer to the future throughout the text and even predict the future.

This prediction, mentioned earlier, often appears in an advance of the terms of a sentence, as is the case of “People seem to like everyday dramas”. In the example in question, “the people”, which, in direct order, would appear between “that” and “like”, turning the sentence into: “It seems that people like everyday dramas. Despite the anticipation of terms, there are no errors, grammatically speaking, in the quoted period.

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