In this "immortal quatrain," Dorothy Parker explained that her limit was two:
Intrigued by the quote, I checked the Wikipedia biography of a woman whose name I have heard, but about whom I knew nothing. She was a widely quoted author, especially in the 1920s, known for her wit. A collection of her work "was released in the United States in 1944 under the title The Portable Dorothy Parker. Parker's is one of only three of the Portable series (the other two being William Shakespeare and The Bible) to remain continuously in print." Here are some of her famous quotes:“I like to have a martini,
Two at the very most.
After three I'm under the table,
After four I'm under my host.”
“If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to.”For her epitaph, she suggested 'Excuse my dust.' Ironically "her ashes remained unclaimed in various places, including her attorney Paul O'Dwyer's filing cabinet, for approximately 17 years." I've requested The Portable Dorothy Parker from the library.
“This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.”
“What fresh hell is this?”
“Tell him I was too fucking busy-- or vice versa.”
“This wasn't just plain terrible, this was fancy terrible. This was terrible with raisins in it.”
“I had been fed, in my youth, a lot of old wives' tales about the way men would instantly forsake a beautiful woman to flock around a brilliant one. It is but fair to say that, after getting out in the world, I had never seen this happen.”
“So, you're the man who can't spell 'fuck.'" (Dorothy Parker to Norman Mailer after publishers had convinced Mailer to replace the word with a euphemism, 'fug,' in "The Naked and the Dead.”) Addendum: Note this is possibly a misattribution, perhaps said by Tallulah Bankhead (hat tip to reader Michael Skeet).
“Men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses.”
“The best way to keep children at home is to make the home atmosphere pleasant, and let the air out of the tires.”
Reposted from 2012 to provide some levity in the midst of pandemic and political news. I would add, however, that however witty her epigrammatic quotes are, the collected poetry is mostly morose, suitable primarily for an emo book club.
Addendum: Here's a link for the Dorothy Parker Society.
Addendum: As reported by NPR:
Dorothy Parker died in 1967 at the age of 73. She left no family and directed that her estate and any future royalties go to a man she had never met but admired, The Reverend Martin Luther King; and on his death, to the NAACP.
She designated that her friend, the playwright Lillian Hellmann, be her literary executor. But Lillian Hellmann thought that Dr. King was a pompous stuffed shirt, and she didn't think much of the NAACP.
Seemingly out of spite, [Hellmann] made it difficult for those who wanted to reprint Dorothy Parker's poems or turn her works into plays and movies.
Marion Meade has written about the saga of Dorothy Parker and Lillian Hellmann in the April-May issue of Book Forum magazine. She joins us from our studios in New York... [continues at the link]