Analepsis: The evocation in a narrative of scenes or events that took place at an earlier point in the story. One of the three major types of anachrony, analepsis is commonly equated with flashback, but reader-response critics Gérard Genette and Gerald Prince have argued that it is, in fact, a broader term (much as its opposite, prolepsis, is a broader term than flashforward). For instance, analepsis may involve an image or figure of speech that harks back to something encountered earlier. Sometimes a retrospective thought or meditation disrupts the chronological flow of material being recounted. Occasionally, analepsis even involves a subconscious memory or vision of the past that suddenly manifests itself in the consciousness or dreams of the narrator or of a main character whose mental processes are recounted by the narrative — for instance, via free indirect discourse.

EXAMPLES: The italicized clause in the following sentence: “Carolyn was surprised when she read the exam questions because, although she had spent the entire weekend studying, she couldn’t answer a single one.” In Interview with the Vampire (1976), novelist Anne Rice repeatedly used flashback as the narrator-protagonist Louis tells a young reporter how he became a vampire.

In Memoriam A. H. H. (1850), the elegy Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote following the death of his friend Arthur Henry Hallam, contains numerous examples of analepsis more broadly defined, including powerful recollective experiences (“The dead man touched me from the past”) and various mystical experiences and dream visions, some of which recall Hallam in aspects and situations more surreal than real (“The man we loved was there on deck, / But thrice as large as man”).