Anachrony occurs when the events of a story are not told in the order in which they occurred or, in the case of made-up stories, should have occurred. Many stories gain their charm just by rearranging their events. An example of this is the detective novel , which often creates tension by telling the details of the crime at the end, e.g. B. as resolution by the detective.
Anachrony is widely used in the literature. An extreme example is Harold Pinter's drama Betrayal (1978), in which the story of the breakup of a love affair is told backwards .
Types of anachrony
There are two basic ways of anachrony:
- Analepse or turning back: An event that takes place before other events is told afterwards (e.g. the resolution in many crime novels) - is often also called flashback .
- Prolepse or prediction: An event that takes place after other events (or could also take place) is told beforehand
Both forms of anachrony can be more precisely determined according to their range, i.e. H. how far in time the anachronously narrated event is from the previously narrated events, and their duration, d. H. how extensive is the anachronous event.
Gérard Genette differentiates between ana- and prolepsy according to whether they belong to the period of the main storyline (internal ana- or prolepsis) or lie outside the main storyline (external ana- or prolepsis).
Examples of the different types of anachrony
In theory, any story can be told in any order, depending on the intended effect. Suppose you want to tell a story that consists of the following events:
- A woman is making pancakes at home.
- A friend calls her to tell her about her date yesterday.
- Clouds of smoke interrupt their conversation: the pancakes are burned during the conversation.
With this raw material, different types of anachrony are demonstrated:
Internal analepsis: She got a call from her friend, deep in conversation about yesterday's date (2). She even forgot that she had just started frying pancakes (1). Only when she smelled smoke did she startle, but found only charred remains of her food (3). (Sequence of events: 2 >> 1 >> 3)
Internal proleps: she had just started frying pancakes (1). Little did she know that she would only have charred remains of her food (3). A call from her friend distracted her, who wanted to talk to her about yesterday's date (2). (Sequence of events: 1 >> 3 >> 2)
External analepsis: She had just started frying pancakes (1). Then she got a call from her friend who began to tell about her date yesterday (2). It had apparently been a terribly embarrassing evening (X). Her friend's report resulted in the pancakes being completely burned unattended and only becoming noticeable again through clouds of smoke (3). (Order of events: 1 >> 2 >> X [= event that takes place before the main story] >> 3)
External proleps: she had just started frying pancakes (1). Then she got a call from her friend who began to tell about her date yesterday (2). They immediately started a long conversation, although they would meet that evening anyway (X). Her friend's report resulted in the pancakes being completely burned unattended and only becoming noticeable again through clouds of smoke (3). (Sequence of events: 1 >> 2 >> X [= event occurring after the main story] >> 3)