kitsch

This is the full read-only archive of the "Ask the Wordwizard" section of the original Wordwizard site. The responses to the questions originate from Jonathon Green, the compiler of the Cassell Dictionary of Slang and numerous other dictionaries.
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kitsch

Post by Archived Topic » Fri Oct 02, 1998 11:00 pm

I'm looking for the origin of the word 'kitsch'.
Submitted by Madeleine Resuehr (Hamburg - Germany)
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kitsch

Post by Jonathon Green » Sat Oct 03, 1998 7:00 am

kitsch is German and is defined as art or objets d’art characterized by worthless pretentiousness; the qualities associated with such art or artifacts. The Partisan Review in 1939 added what seems to me a useful comment: 'Kitsch is mechanical and operates by formulas. Kitsch is vicarious experience and faked sensations. Kitsch changes according to style, but remains always the same. Kitsch is the epitome of all that is spurious in the life of our times.'
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