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Historic Present

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Chapter Summary

One device that a narrator may employ in his narrative presentation is the use of different tenses. Of these the historic present is particularly interesting. The use of the present tense to present events that took place in the past has traditionally been explained as a stylistic device employed by narrators to make their story more vivid or dramatic. The historic present also occurs in narrative stichomythia. The topic of the historic present in narrative stichomythia involves some difficulties that require discussion. This chapter treats the present tenses that refer to past events or actions in narrative stichomythia as historic presents and accounts for their use in rhetorical terms, that the historic present is used to highlight events that are important from the perspective of the narrator's, or, in the case of narrative stichomythia, also the narratee's communicative purposes in the specific context of the narrative.

Keywords: communicative purposes; historic present; narratee; narrative stichomythia



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