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Reverse chronology

Related: Time's Arrow (1991) - Martin Amis - Irréversible (2002) - Gaspar Noé - narratology - non linearity - fragmentation - time

While the 1991 Time's Arrow is very much the best-known example of reverse chronology literature, the idea had been explored previously by Philip K. Dick's 1967 Counter-Clock World. [Oct 2006]


Reverse chronology is a method of story-telling whereby the plot is revealed in reverse order.

In a story employing this technique, the first scene shown is actually the conclusion to the plot. Once that scene ends, the penultimate scene is shown, and so on, so that the final scene the viewer sees is the first chronologically. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reverse_chronology [Aug 2006]

Reverse chronology and literature

I can think of a novel that uses reverse chronology: Time's Arrow by Martin Amis, which I thought was pretty brilliant. And then their came Memento and Irréversible, which did the same for cinema, but not as powerfully as Amis did.

Reverse chronology is a method of story-telling whereby the plot is revealed in reverse order. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reverse_chronology [Jun 2006]

The House in Paris (1935) – Elizabeth Bowen

Elizabeth Bowen, the female flâneur of modernism wrote The House in Paris in reverse chronology from the middle onwards. [Aug 2006]

In medias res

In medias res (Latin for "into the middle of things") is a literary technique where the narrative starts in the middle of the story instead of from its beginning (ab ovo or ab initio). The characters, setting, and conflict are often introduced through a series of flashbacks or through characters relating past events to each other. Classical works such as Virgil's Aeneid and Homer's Iliad begin in the middle of the story.

The terms in medias res and ab ovo (literally "from the egg") both come from the Roman poet Horace's Ars Poetica ("Art of poetry"), lines 147-148, where he describes his ideal for an epic poet:

Nor does he begin the Trojan War from the double egg,
but always he hurries to the action, and snatches the listener into the middle of things ...

The "double egg" is a reference to the origin of the Trojan War with the legendary birth of Helen and Clytemnestra from an egg laid by their mother, Leda, after she was raped by Zeus in the form of a swan.

The narrative method has proven very popular throughout the ages, including frequent use in Modernist literature, including Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness and Ford Madox Ford's The Good Soldier. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_medias_res [Aug 2006]

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