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Retrospective Narration

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This chapter considers novels which use the present tense to narrate events that are nevertheless construed to lie in the narrator’s past. The retrospective character of narration is frequently marked by context or by commentary, which makes it clear that the narrative perspective is not a simultaneous one. Examples for this group of texts are abundant, and the discussion considers novels like John Burnside’s Glister, Anne Enright’s The Gathering, Rachel Seiffert’s The Dark Room and Tom McCarthy’s C.


  • present-tense narration
  • retrospection
  • historical present

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Huber, I. (2016). Retrospective Narration. In: Present Tense Narration in Contemporary Fiction. Palgrave Macmillan, London.

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