On June 3, Marc Spitz’s new book, Twee: The Gentle Revolution in Music, Books, Television, Fashion and Film was published by IT Books/Harper Collins.
But hang on a minute: what does twee actually mean? An adjective with slightly onomatopoeic and diminutive implications — originally thought to represent a childish pronunciation of sweet, its straightforward meaning according to the OED is sweet, dainty or chic; but this British colloquialism has a distinctively derogatory flavor — one that smacks of more affectedly and repellently quaint: precious or overly saccharine, rather than simply sweet.
The Telegraph in summing up Philippe Le Guay’s movie Cycling with Moliere declares that “twee groanishness abounds”. An English reader gets exactly what that means, even if we haven’t seen the film in question: we’re unlikely to pay the cost of admission and candied popcorn if we’re in for an evening of groanish twee. But have Americans taken that quaint 4-letter word and taken it too far — or gone slightly off course in their understanding of it? Continue reading