We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

In Literature, what is Pastiche?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Language & Humanities is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Language & Humanities, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The literary term "pastiche" is used in two slightly different ways, and the concept can be found in other arts, not just literature, ranging from architecture to film. In the first sense, a pastiche is a form of homage which is accomplished through imitation. In the second definition, a pastiche is a medley of items which are imitative in origin. The term can be used in a derogatory or complimentary way, depending on the work under discussion.

The origins of the word lie in an Italian word meaning "medley," a reference to a type of cake or pie which is made from a broad mixture of items. The idea behind either form of pastiche is that it integrates themes, ideas, concepts, and characters which have already been seen and used before. These items are integrated in a new work because the author finds them interesting, compelling, or useful; a pastiche is not plagiarism or outright imitation, but a more complex literary concept.

In the first sense, a pastiche is often constructed as an homage or send-up of a noted author or genre. For example, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead is a playful take on Hamlet; The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is another take on Hamlet which takes on a more serious tone. Authors may produce a pastiche which imitates another author's style, borrows characters used by an author, or plays with an entire genre in literature. The numerous novels featuring the famous detective Sherlock Holmes written long after the death of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are pastiches, for example.

In the sense of a medley, a pastiche can sometimes be successful, and sometimes be a total disaster. Some authors are very adept at weaving in many themes and concepts to create a rich and complex work, while others create a hodge-podge of items which feel incongruous and do not work together. This type of literary pastiche may be used to juxtapose characters and styles, or to illustrate the universality of themes; to borrow from Hamlet again, for example, an author could opt to create a re-telling of the story set in space in an Old Western style, integrating three very different thematic elements.

Popular culture is filled with imitation, sometimes entirely unintentional. Some themes have been used so many times that authors utilize them unconsciously, blissfully unaware of their origins. A true pastiche, however, involves a conscious decision to integrate elements of literary style from previously published works.

Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a Language & Humanities researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By ChasingZoe — On Apr 06, 2011

There is a lot of literature based on the Alice in Wonderland books. Shortly after the first book was published, a writer named Anna M. Richards wrote a book called A New Alice in the Old Wonderland. It was about a girl who had read Alice in Wonderland and visited the place herself. From what I understand, she meets all of the same characters, though her experiences differ.

There are still writers creating retellings of the books. More recently there have been a lot of graphic novels and comic books telling the story of Alice in Wonderland. Many people think that these types of books are a great addition to the series. Of course, some of these works beg the question of what, exactly, can be considered original literature. I think this is a problem with a lot of literature written in pastiche. But there are some really great works written in this style, and I would be wary to write it off completely.

By TheTiger — On Apr 05, 2011

Reading this, I immediately thought of the Broadway play Wicked. The play is based on a relatively recent novel, 'The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West'. I think this is one really excellent example of Pastiche and how this literary tool is also used to explore another view of a classic story.

In 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz', we only see Dorothy’s view of the events. 'The Life and Times' adds another layer of complexity to the story that is very intriguing. It tells the story from the view of the witches of Oz and creates a history of their lives that is both complicated and interesting.

I think this novel also uses the concept of pastiche very well because it doesn’t just copy the events of 'The Wizard of Oz', it creates an entirely new story that can stand in its own right.

While I know that there are many other works of literature that are created in this way, 'The Life and Times' was the first that I thought of. I’m interested to know what other novels people think of -- did anybody else have one come to mind?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.