Dorothy Parker

Franklin Library Dorothy Parker books

Here Lies and Other Stories - Collected Stories of the World's Greatest Writers - 1980

Writer Dorothy Parker

Dorothy Parker, renowned for her acerbic wit, incisive social commentary, and poignant poetry, remains an iconic figure of the Jazz Age and one of the most celebrated writers of the 20th century. Born on August 22, 1893, in Long Branch, New Jersey, Parker's life was marked by a relentless pursuit of truth, humor, and literary excellence. Parker's early years were characterized by upheaval and adversity. Following the death of her mother when she was just four years old, she was sent to live with relatives in New York City. Despite the challenges she faced, Parker's sharp intellect and keen sense of humor emerged at an early age, setting the stage for her future career as a writer. In the 1910s, Parker emerged as a prominent figure in New York's vibrant literary scene, contributing essays, reviews, and poetry to publications such as Vanity Fair and The New Yorker. It was during this time that she became a founding member of the Algonquin Round Table, a legendary gathering of writers, critics, and wits whose sharp-tongued banter and repartee became legendary. Parker's wit and wisdom found its most enduring expression in her poetry and short stories. Her verse, characterized by its sardonic humor and keen insight into the human condition, captured the essence of life in the Roaring Twenties, with its excesses, contradictions, and disillusionments.

Among Parker's most famous works is her poem Résumé, which opens with the iconic lines: "Razors pain you / Rivers are damp / Acids stain you / And drugs cause cramp / Guns aren't lawful / Nooses give / Gas smells awful / You might as well live..." This darkly humorous reflection on life's hardships encapsulates Parker's unique blend of wit and melancholy. In addition to her poetry, Parker achieved acclaim as a short story writer, penning biting satires and character studies that laid bare the foibles and hypocrisies of society. Her collections, including Enough Rope (1926) and Sunset Gun (1928), solidified her reputation as a literary luminary and a master of the short form.

Despite her literary success, Parker's personal life was marked by tumultuous relationships, struggles with depression, and battles with alcoholism. Yet, through it all, she maintained her wit and resilience, finding solace and catharsis in her writing. In the decades that followed, Parker's legacy continued to grow, as her works remained in print and her influence on subsequent generations of writers became increasingly apparent. Today, she is remembered not only for her literary achievements but also for her pioneering role as a woman in a male-dominated literary world and her fearless commitment to speaking truth to power. Dorothy Parker's wit, humor, and insight continue to resonate with readers around the world, reminding us of the enduring power of words to illuminate the human experience. Though she passed away on June 7, 1967, her words live on, as timeless and relevant today as they were during the heyday of the Jazz Age.

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