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I know that verb tense consistency is something of importance, but sometimes it gets a bit difficult to know where in a statement one can change the verb tense.

Here's one of those difficult examples to me:

Mr. Jenner makes a passing reference to Conrad, Kipling and Lawrence, three contemporary novelists who are somehow different in their general views on life.

Shouldn't I change "are" into "were"?

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If Jenner is an author with whom you are in dialogue about Kipling, Conrad, or Lawrence, you treat him and all other sources as if they were still living persons, using the present tense. Ordinarily, you would use just the surname, but perhaps you have your reasons for the "Mr."

If, on the other hand, the bare fact that Jenner made the comment is of significance, then use the past tense.

Kipling, Conrad, and Lawrence are, alas, still dead, so their differing views of life are still in the past tense.

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