May 22, 2007


Pastiche is a knowing imitation:

Or an arrangement of many-in-one:

Pastiche: [ pah-steetsh' ] .



1. a. A novel, poem, painting, etc., incorporating several different styles, or made up of parts drawn from a variety of sources.

Eiji's fantasies are..pastiches of Japanese pop culture:..gangster movies, Sega video games and manga (comic books)2002

b. A musical composition incorporating different styles; a medley.
  • Set to a musical pastiche by Paul Sullivan (including rock, Japanese flute and the ‘Lone Ranger’ theme), the work suffered from Keystone Kops-like silliness. 2003

2. a. A work, esp. of literature, created in the style of someone or something else; a work that humorously exaggerates or parodies a particular style.

  • In "Holy Disorders" there is a marvellous pastiche of a ghost story by M. R. James. 1990
b. The technique of incorporating distinctive elements of other works or styles in a literary composition, design, etc.
  • Mr. Burne-Jones is not accused..of plagiarism, but of pastiche, which is a very different thing 1892
  • London-based artist Gavin Turk uses pastiche to make visual points by recycling a variety of pop icons 2000.

Pastiche in its sense of "incorporating distinctive elements of other works or styles into a design" (many-in-one) made an appearance in a recent Time Magazine review of the film Shreck the Third":
The ugly green guy (voiced by Mike Myers) and his retinue are back for Take 3 of DreamWorks' fractured fairy tale, this one directed by Chris Miller. Here, the happily married Shrek, shrinking from the prospect of becoming king, goes searching for a proper heir and instead finds the feckless Artie (Justin Timberlake). A laugh-packed opening gives way to meandering plot lines and lots of moralizing, with our hero sounding as dewily p.c. as an Ogre Winfrey. It's a goofy request, but maybe filmmakers should have a better reason to do a threequel than that its predecessors earned billions. Or could it be that the buoyancy of pastiche comedy is just harder to sustain the third time around? (May 28, 2007)


The definition of pastiche to which we are giving primary focus in this posting —
"incorporating distinctive elements of other works or styles into a design"—applies in the context of the Shrek review in this sense: "Shrek the Third"'s (first-time) director, Chris Miller, is borrowing on the distinctive Shrek stylistic elements that were created for the first two Shrek films made by other film artists.

"Shrek the Third" was one of three films reviewed by Time. Each review comprised a single paragraph and was given its own headline—a single evaluative word beginning with the syllable un-. The full set of the three reviews were headed with this announcement to film fans:
Cheat Sheet. What you should see, what you should skip—and what you won't be able to avoid

How was each film rated? Read on:
  • “Letters from Iwo Jima won an UNMISSABLE.
  • “The Wendell Baker Story” suffered an UNNECESSARY.
  • And "Shreck the Third,” on its artistic merit, received a pass but, on its boxoffice potential, picked up an UNAVOIDABLE.
In terms of its "buoyancy" as a comedic pastiche (to use Time's aquatic metaphor), "Shrek the Third" took a dive.


Pastiche came to English in 1878 from the French pastiche, which derived from the Italian word pasticcio, meaning either "medley" or "pastry cake."

Online Etymology Dictionary
in its sense
"many-in-one" has become
the name of a game invented by
Kate Wilhelm, the goal of which is "to create
legal sentences using words drawn from a pile."


And his very weblog, I am sure you have already realized, comprises a pastiche of the "many-in-one" sort. It is a gathering of direct citations from a variety of word-books, dictionaries, and web sites; precis of lengthy passages; glosses of various kinds, primarily of a word's meaning and standard usage; and illustrative images of drawings, paintings, advertisements, and photographs—in short, a compatchment of many forms in the service of one word.


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