Academic journal article Literator: Journal of Literary Criticism, comparative linguistics and literary studies

The Technique of Flashback in Selected Northern Sotho Literary Texts

Academic journal article Literator: Journal of Literary Criticism, comparative linguistics and literary studies

The Technique of Flashback in Selected Northern Sotho Literary Texts

Article excerpt

Abstract

The technique of flashback in selected Northern Sotho literary texts

This article aims at investigating and explaining the application of the technique of flashback in selected Northern Sotho literary texts. Five kinds of flashback are distinguished, namely external retrospection, internal retrospection, mixed retrospection, flashback to complicate events and flashback of similar events. These kinds of flashback have certain and specific functions, such as reminding readers of past events, foregrounding themes of the text, and so on. This technique is evident in a text when ordinary, everyday events turn out to be the key to surprising secrets that are revealed later. Though flashback seems to be similar to foreshadowing (prolepsis) in that both techniques contain features of repetition and the narration of a specific experience, the techniques, however, differ in that flashback focuses on the elements of secrecy, suspense and surprise, and foreshadowing does not. This article also reveals that a relationship between flashback and the structure of detective stories can be indicated.

Opsomming

Terugflitse as tegniek In geselekteerde Noord-Sotho literere tekste

Die doel van hierdie artikel is om die toepassing van terugflitse as tegniek in enkele literere tekste in Noord-Sotho te verduidelik en toe te pas. Terugflitse as literere tegniek kan onderverdeel word in vyf soorte, te wete eksterne, interne en gemengde retrospeksie, die terugflits om gebeure te kompliseer, en die om gelyksoortige gebeurtenisse op te roep. Elkeen van hierdie vorms het 'n besondere funksie, soos onder andere om die leser aan vorige gebeurtenisse te herinner of om bepaalde tematiese besonderhede na vore te bring. Die tegniek van terugflits is aantoonbaar wanneer gewone, alledaagse insidente later die sleutel word vir verrassende geheime wat onthul word. Ofskoon terugflits en vooruitskouing albei deur herhaling en die vertel van 'n besondere ervaring gekenmerk word, verskil hulle hierin dat terugflits op die elemente van geheimhouding, spanning en verrassing fokus en vooruitskouing nie. Die artikel wys ook op die verband tussen die tegniek van terugflits en die struktuur van speurverhale.

1. Introduction

Flashback is one of the techniques used in what narratologists call the second level of a text, that is the plot. Strachan (1990:101) and Genette (1980:49) list different kinds of these techniques that can be distinguished. Strachan (1990:101) for instance states:

   ... a distinction can be made between external retrospection
   (which lies outside the space of time of the primary story),
   internal retrospection (which lies inside the space of time of the
   primary story) and mixed retrospection (which begins outside
   the space of time of the primary story and ends within it).

In fact Strachan lists three kinds of flashback: (a) external retrospection, (b) internal retrospection and (c) mixed retrospection. Though this categorisation is widely accepted, it is problematic in that it does not include all kinds of flashback. Therefore, the aims of this article are firstly, to make necessary additions to Strachan's list of different kinds of flashback, secondly to investigate the application of flashback in selected Northern Sotho literary texts, and thirdly to establish the relationship between flashback and the structure of detective stories. This investigation of flashback will be conducted under the following headings: flashback as a narrative technique, kinds of flashback, flashback in selected Northern Sotho literary texts and the relationship between flashback and the structure of detective stories.

2. Flashback as a narrative technique

Before flashback can be defined it is important to explain the concept of narrative technique, since flashback itself is a narrative technique. Groenewald (1995:32) describes narrative technique as the arranging of events by confirming or disconfirming them, while Mojalefa (1995:24) contends that narrative techniques are different ways authors can choose to arrange the events in literary texts. …

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