Monday, August 22, 2011

Dorothy Parker

It costs me never a stab nor squirm
To tread by chance upon a worm.
"Aha, my little dear," I say,
"Your clan will pay me back some day."
From her "Thoughts for a Sunshiny Morning," which was published in the New Yorker in 1927.

Parker, who was born on this date in 1893, was one of the funniest writers of her era, but also one of the saddest people of that era.  Given her unhappy marriages (she said that one of her husbands was "queer as a billy goat") and equally unhappy extramarital affairs (at least one of which resulted in a pregnancy and abortion), it is not surprising that her writings expressed a low opinion of romantic relationships. 

Parker was one of the founding members of the famous "Algonquin Round Table," but later denigrated the group (including herself) as mere wisecrackers: "Think who was writing in those days.  Lardner, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, and Hemingway.  Those were the real giants.  The Round Table was just a lot of people telling jokes and telling each other how good they were.  Just a bunch of loudmouths showing off, saving their gags for days, waiting for a chance to spring them.  There was no truth in anything they said."

Parker died of a heart attack in 1967.  She was cremated, and so had the last laugh on the worms.

Dorothy Parker

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