Dorothy Parker Quotes

...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 ....
Dorothy Parker (1893-1967), U.S. author and humorist. Constant Reader, ch. 22 (1970). From a column dated November 17, 1928.
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You cannot go ten yards, on any thoroughfare, without being passed by some Rotarian of Literature, hurrying to attend a luncheon, banquet, tea, or get-together, where he may rush about from buddy to buddy, slapping shoulders, crying nicknames, and swapping gossip of the writing game. I believed for as long as possible that they were on for their annual convention, and I thought they must run their little span and disappear, like automobile shows, six-day bicycle races, ice on the pavements, and such recurrent impedimenta of metropolitan life. But it appears that they are to go on and on. Their fraternal activities are their livings—more, their existences.
Dorothy Parker (1893-1967), U.S. author and humorist. Constant Reader, ch. 13 (1970). From a column dated February 11, 1928; Parker was describing literary life in New York City, where she lived.
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It has lately been drawn to your correspondent's attention that, at social gatherings, she is not the human magnet she would be. Indeed, it turns out that as a source of entertainment, conviviality, and good fun, she ranks somewhere between a sprig of parsley and a single ice- skate. It would appear, from the actions of the assembled guests, that she is about as hot company as a night nurse.
Dorothy Parker (1893-1967), U.S. author and humorist. Constant Reader, column dated November 17, 1928 (1970).
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In the combined names of Social Intercourse, Meeting Interesting People, and Getting Out of a Rut, I have taken, in my time, some terrible beatings. I have listened to poets rendering their own odes. I have had the plots of yet unwritten plays given me in tiniest detail, I have assisted in charades, I have been politely mystified by card tricks, I have even been sent out of the room and been forced, on my return, to ask the assembled company such questions as I hoped might reveal to me what Famous Character in Fiction they represented. I have spent entire evenings knee-deep in derry-down-derries, listening to quaint old English ballads done without accompaniment; I have been backed into cold corners by pianos while composers showed me how that thing they wrote three years before Gershwin did "The Man I Love" went; I knew a young man who has an inlaid ukelele. You see these gray hairs? Well, making whoopee with the intelligentsia was the way I earned them.
Dorothy Parker (1893-1967), U.S. author and humorist. Constant Reader, column dated April 7, 1928 (1970).
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As one delves deeper and deeper into Etiquette, disquieting thoughts come. That old Is- It-Worth-It Blues starts up again softly, perhaps, but plainly. Those who have mastered etiquette, who are entirely, impeccably right, would seem to arrive at a point of exquisite dullness. The letters and the conversations of the correct, as quoted by Mrs. Post, seem scarcely worth the striving for. The rules for finding topics of conversation fall damply on the spirit.
Dorothy Parker (1893-1967), U.S. author, book reviewer, and humorist. Constant Reader, ch. 9 (1970). From a review of Emily Post's Etiquette, dated December 31, 1927.
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I went to a literary gathering once.... The place was filled with people who looked as if they had been scraped up out of drains. The ladies ran to draped plush dresses—for Art; to wreaths of silken flowerets in the hair—for Femininity; and, somewhere between the two adornments, to chain-drive pince-nez—for Astigmatism. The gentlemen were small and somewhat in need of dusting.
Dorothy Parker (1893-1967), U.S. author and humorist. Constant Reader, ch. 13 (1970). From a column dated February 11, 1928.
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Here was a great woman; a magnificent, generous, gallant, reckless, fated fool of a woman. There was never a place for her in the ranks of the terrible, slow army of the cautious. She ran ahead, where there were no paths.
Dorothy Parker (1893-1967), U.S. author, book reviewer, and humorist. Constant Reader, ch. 10 (1970). From a column dated January 14, 1928, in which she reviewed the autobiography of Isadora Duncan (1878-1927), who was an immensely innovative, daring, and controversial dancer and woman. Duncan had died dramatically the previous year in Nice, France, when her long, flowing neck scarf caught in the wheel of her automobile and strangled her.
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I misremember who first was cruel enough to nurture the cocktail party into life. But perhaps it would be not too much too say, in fact it would be not enough to say, that it was not worth the trouble.
Dorothy Parker (1893-1967), U.S. humor writer. Esquire (New York, Nov. 1964).
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Sorrow is tranquility remembered in emotion.
Dorothy Parker (1893-1967), U.S. humorous writer. Here Lies, "Sentiment," (1939). For the original, see Wordsworth on poetry.
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If you're going to write, don't pretend to write down. It's going to be the best you can do, and it's the fact that it's the best you can do that kills you.
Dorothy Parker (1893-1967), U.S. humor writer. Interview in Writers at Work, First Series, ed. Malcolm Cowley (1958).
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