Analepsis

Concept of analepsis

Analepsis, or flashback, is a narrative technique, commonly used in literature and cinema, but that can also be used in theatre, and that consists on the description of events prior to the present moment of the story. This way, the chronological order of the facts is interrupted, and there is a return to the past in the story.

When using an analepsis, the author is telling events that occurred in the past, and this episodes can be shown or described in multiple ways. Thus, the analepsis can be used directly, with a clear indication of the alteration of time, with the assumed evocation of a past event, in literature, or with the representation of a memory that is evidently portrayed as such. An analepsis can also appear in a narrative less evidently, either in literature or cinema and theatre, in a way that only with the plot development the public can understand that some of the events that are being told happened in the past.

An analepsis is the opposite of a prolepsis, which refers to events that will happen in the future.

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