Using the Word Pastiche

Fredric Jameson, "Postmodernism and Consumer Society." The Cultural Turn: Selected Writings on the Postmodern, 1983-1998 (Verso, 1998).

A text that borrows or imitates the style, words, or ideas of other writers.

Unlike a parody, which aims for a comic or satiric effect, a pastiche is often intended as a compliment (or an homage) to the original writer(s)--though it may just be a hodgepodge of borrowed words and ideas.

Examples and Observations:

  • "The pastiche prose form openly mimes the content and mannerisms of another written work. It's a respectful, if often jocular, an homage to the work that inspired it. (Its literary cousin is the parody, but that imitation subtly or savagely satirizes its source material.) The pastiche implicitly says, 'I appreciate this author, the characters, and the fictive world . . . and my imitation is sincere flattery.

    "The affection for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his immortal Sherlock Holmes is evident in August Derleth's stories about brilliant, deerstalker-wearing Solar Pons of 7B Praed St."
    (Mort Castle, "Write Like Poe." The Complete Handbook Of Novel Writing, 2nd ed. Writer's Digest Books, 2010)
  • "The secret mechanism of a pastiche is the fact that a style is not just a unique set of linguistic operations: a style is not just a prose style. A style is also a quality of vision. It is also its subject matter. A pastiche transfers the prose style to a new content (while parody transfers the prose style to an inadmissible and scandalous content): it is, therefore, a way of testing out the limits of a style."
    (Adam Thirlwell, The Delighted States. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007)
  • Parody and Pastiche in The Simpsons
    "Parody attacks a particular text or genre, making fun of how that text or genre operates. Pastiche merely imitates or repeats for mildly ironic amusement, whereas parody is actively critical. For instance, when an episode of The Simpsons loosely follows the plot of Citizen Kane (rendering Mr. Burns as Kane), no real critique is offered of Orson Welles's masterpiece, making this pastiche. Yet on a weekly basis, The Simpsons plays with generic conventions of the traditional family sitcom. It also mocks forms of advertising and . . . it occasionally lambastes the form and format of news, all with critical intent, thereby making such instances bona fide parody."
    (Jonathan Gray, Jeffrey P. Jones, and Ethan Thompson, "The State of Satire, the Satire of the State." Satire TV: Politics and Comedy in the Post-Network Era. New York University Press, 2009)
  • Pastiche in Green Day's American Idiot (Musical)
    "The sheer volume of the stage band’s music and the frenetic rush of action provide constant energy. But tunes recalling the 1950s pastiche of The Rocky Horror Picture Show or, during 'We’re Coming Home Again,' the Phil Spectoresque Springsteen of 'Born to Run,' have few punk credentials. The indulgent-youths versus dutiful-wives combat of 'Too Much Too Soon' also shows how much [Bilie Joe] Armstrong’s characters are [Jack] Kerouac boys and girls at base, American idiots and ennui unchanged."
    (Nick Hasted, "Green Day’s American Idiot, Hammersmith Apollo, London." The Independent, December 5, 2012)
  • Pastiche in Peter Pan
    "The apparent contradiction whereby war converts into a game is weirdly captured in Baden-Powell's favorite play, J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan (1904), which he saw many times in the years he was gestating Scouting for Boys. In the Neverland of the play, Peter's boys, the pirates, and the Indians relentlessly track after one another in a literal vicious circle that, though it is on one level all burlesque, an excessive late Imperial pastiche of the commonplaces of children's fiction, is also deadly serious--as the final carnage on Captain Hook's ship vividly dramatizes."
    (Elleke Boehmer, introduction to Scouting for Boys: A Handbook for Instruction in Good Citizenship by Robert Baden-Powell, 1908; Rpt. 2004)
  • Samuel Beckett's Use of Pastiche
    "[Samuel] Beckett's cutting and pasting his reading onto his own stock of prose produced a discourse that Giles Deleuze might call rhizomatic or a technique Frederic Jameson might call pastiche. That is, these early works are finally assemblages, intertextual layerings, palimpsests, the effect of which is to produce (if not reproduce) a multiplicity of meanings in a manner that will come to be thought Postmodern in the second half of the twentieth century. . . .

    "Postmodern pastiche would suggest that the only style possible in contemporary culture is travesty or mimicry of past styles--quite the opposite of what Beckett was developing. Intertext or assemblage or pastiche allowed Beckett to assault the idea of style and so (or thereby) develop his own . . .."
    (S.E. Gontarski, "Style and the Man: Samuel Beckett and the Art of Pastiche." Samuel Beckett Today: Pastiches, Parodies & Other Imitations, ed. by Marius Buning, Matthijs Engelberts, and Sjef Houppermans. Rodopi, 2002)
  • Fredric Jameson on Pastiche
    "Hence, once again, pastiche: in a world in which stylistic innovation is no longer possible, all that is left is to imitate dead styles, to speak through the masks and with the voices of the styles in the imaginary museum. But this means that contemporary or postmodernist art is going to be about art itself in a new kind of way; even more, it means that one of its essential messages will involve the necessary failure of art and the aesthetic, the failure of the new, the imprisonment in the past."
    (Fredric Jameson, "Postmodernism and Consumer Society." The Cultural Turn: Selected Writings on the Postmodern, 1983-1998. Verso, 1998)
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Nordquist, Richard. "Using the Word Pastiche." ThoughtCo, Sep. 2, 2017, thoughtco.com/pastiche-definition-1691491. Nordquist, Richard. (2017, September 2). Using the Word Pastiche. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/pastiche-definition-1691491 Nordquist, Richard. "Using the Word Pastiche." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/pastiche-definition-1691491 (accessed May 25, 2018).