Dorothy Parker might have been a bit like me, in temperament. For some reason, although from a family that was normal on the surface by contemporary standards, she felt left behind. Her mother died before she turned five, and she disliked her father and the woman he chose to re-marry. She was sent to a Roman Catholic school in New York City despite her family background (her father was German Jewish and her mother and stepmother were both Protestants).
Her wit shone early, and earned her dismissal from the Catholic school when she referred to the Immaculate Conception idea as "spontaneous combustion." I love this woman.
Dorothy earned acclaim when she wrote criticism for Vanity Fair starting in 1918 while P. G. Wodehouse was vacationing. Her other affiliations included Vogue, the New Yorker, and the literary group known as the Algonquin Roundtable (although she claims to have attended meetings only rarely.)
Dorothy is well known for her poetry. She refused, in the Paris Review interview, to acknowledge her works as "poems," instead referring to them as "verse." Perhaps this is some desire to keep them at arms' length, to not acknowledge them as "finished." Or maybe to communicate some ease with the process of writing them. I can understand this need to detach ones self from one's work. It is just there, like Michelangelo's idea about merely freeing the sculpture.
On the subject of poverty and writers, she was in agreement with Virginia Woolf's idea that a writer should be comfortable. She recognized that artists are a part of the society, and might not be able to earn a living from their "art," thus endorsed some form of government aid for the poverty stricken artists. Perhaps that is what earned her a place on the Hollywood "Black List" during the McCarthy era.
Dorothy was probably best known for a biting wit, sometimes called a "wisecracker" or "smartcracker," a label she deplored. She was also a screenwriter of some note, having co-written screenplays for A Star is Born, The Little Foxes, and Smash-Up, the Story of a Woman. She earned two Academy Award nominations for her work.
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