I recently came across text from a book a good friend of mine was tasked with proofreading. The book, a translation, which detailed the past exploits of a military division (whose members the author interviewed), was written in a borderline-nauseating mix of present and past tenses for texts and references, for both quoted contents and non-quoted (reported) descriptions by the author.

From the looks of it, the person who translated it into English kept it true to the grammatical form of the source material, and the vast majority of the reported text was in present tense (at least in the parts I read).

Question 1: Excluding the contents of the actual quotes, shouldn't everything stated by the author be in the past tense form, including quote references ("We'll implement the changes by late'92," Tomas says)?

Question 2: The second, brief chapter, after the introduction details a past incident and is described from the perspective of one of those interviewed (first-person perspective, all of it in present tense), in a manner that differentiates from the style and form of the rest of the book.

While the author apparently attempted to do something different in style in the source, it doesn't seem to work as well in English in my humble opinion; ignoring the matter of style, shouldn't the same grammatical rules (past tense for reported text) apply just the same here as well? Or does the abrupt transition in perspective (interviewee instead of author for the whole chapter) make it acceptable?

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    If the style bothers you (you use the word "nauseating", which indicates a high sensitivity to certain phenomena), the solution is simple: don't read it. Or program yourself a personal version with the correct tenses (awk should work nicely), if you really want to process all the information without experiencing the heartbreak of unsequenced tenses. The author's style, experimental or simply ignorant, is their responsiblity. – John Lawler Aug 25 '15 at 17:04
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    That's a tough one. I have done proofreading jobs where things were as much of a mess as what you're describing, and I've ended up having to do substantial editing. Which puts the proofreader in a very awkward position. In my experience, the managing editor doesn't want the proofreader to edit the text. My advice to your friend: pick a section, fix it with Track Changes, and plenty of comments on the side, send it to the managing editor, and ask whether to proofread only, and leave the nonsense, or to go ahead and edit, so it will be less embarrassing. – aparente001 Aug 26 '15 at 2:38

The author should use the correct tenses even if he/she uses quotes with incorrect grammar.

However, it should be acceptable for the author to switch between first and third-person narrative as long as it doesn't confuse readers. There does not seem to be any standard protocol for this. If the author is seriously concerned, they can consider adding a note explaining the change,

In short, the author should use the correct grammar for the tense that he/she is using at the moment.

Wikipedia says:

While the general rule is for novels to adopt a single approach to point of view throughout the novel's entirety, it is not mandatory to conform to this rule.

You may also take a look at this article.

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