The Wit of Dorothy Parker

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) was an American writer, critic, and wit; a member of the famed Algonquin Round Table; a writer for New Yorker magazine; an early television personality; and a wonderfully sharp-tongued observer of the human condition.

The now-famous New Yorker magazine was launched in 1925 by Harold Ross on a very tight budget. The magazine's finances were so bad that even the simplest equipment was in short supply. One day, Editor Harold Ross complained to Dorothy for being late on a story assignment. Her reply? "Someone else was using the pencil."

While on her honeymoon, Dorothy Parker was interrupted by her New Yorker editor Harold Ross, who was asking after a late book review. "Too fucking busy," Parker replied, "and vice versa."

At a party, an arrogant young man told Parker, as he looked around the room at the guests, "I'm afraid I simply cannot bear fools." "How odd," Parker replied. "Your mother could, apparently."

Parker was not fond of Clare Boothe Luce. A friend tried to convince her of Luce's qualities, telling her that for instance, Luce is "very kind to her inferiors." "Oh?" Parker replied. "Where does she find them?"

And my own favorite Parker quote: for her review of a novel by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, Parker wrote "This is not a book to be cast aside lightly. It should be hurled with great force."

Posted January 12, 2011

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