But did Parker deny saying it?
We agree that it’s almost certainly a myth.
But did Parker deny saying it?
We agree that it’s almost certainly a myth.
Yes she did. It sets her up as her own straight person, and that was never her style.
The usual story is that Claire Boothe Luce, a famous beauty, motioned Parker through a door first, saying “age before beauty.” Then Parker swept ahead, retorting, “pearls before swine.”
That setup is almost exactly like the pregnancy telegram I discussed above. It takes a boast by the unliked and switches it into a triumph of Parker’s wit.
Whether it ever happened, who knows. But it is exactly her style.
Parker FLATLY denied that ever happened. Luce said she met Parker once and he was very charming.
My mom always said the Parker quote:
“IF all the girls at Yale where laid end to end, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised.”
I don’t know if it is real, but it ought to be.
I think it’s merely attributed. Yale wasn’t coed in those days of course, so the quote is usualy given as "“If all the girls who attended the Yale prom were laid end to end, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised.”
This is really depressing: perhaps she never actually said anything witty at all?
No, she certainly did. That “Tonstant Weader Fwowed Up” line is in her published works (although it’s only the last four words of a lengthy review), for instance. Grab a copy of The Portable Dorothy Parker to see what she’s written.
Parker wasn’t an epigrammatist, like Martial. Her work doesn’t consist of bon mots laid end to end, like Yale coeds. She’s a good writer, and her stuff is worthy reading, and several good lines are tossed in there.
The thing is that, like Mark Twain and Abraham Lincoln, she’s often credited with witticisms that she neither wrote nor said, simply because people think it’s her style, and people copy errors from each other (and did so even before the internet was around).
My favorite Dorothy Parkr quote: She & Alan Campbell were married, divorced and remarried. They invited the same people to their second wedding as they had to the first.
At the second reception, someone remarked “Most of these peole haven’t talked to each other for years.”
“Including the bride and groom” quipped the bride.
This is all true. It’s also true, though, that the Algonquin Round Table was organized and named by publicists and contained several working daily columnists with lots of space to fill. And that the whole group constantly played word games and invented competitions for sayings and one-liners. They weren’t the first collection of wits and writers, nor the last. But they lived at a unique time when the witty things they said were likely to be spread, printed, and quoted, and they knew that any good line would see print with their names attached, making for good publicity. (They also knew, and more grudgingly accepted, that the publicists would put their names on any good line anybody with less name value said or that the publicists or columnists made up themselves. “Let me slip out of these wet clothes and into a dry martini” used to be attributed to Benchley but now is thought to be a publicist’s invention.)
We’re in a similar time today with twitter posts. Most comedians now have twitter pages to share one-liners. A bunch of them did commentary on the Oscars, so we have a record of dozens of one-liners in print. Maybe these will all be saved for the future or maybe only a few best will live on. But they are being witty knowingly and deliberately and publicly. There may have been ten million greater and funnier lines in diners after comedy shows that are lost, but these won’t be.
That’s the Algonquin Round Table. They said witty things and expected them to be shared. That’s why they are overly represented in funny quotes lists. They really were witty. They just made sure everybody knew it.
Wrong, wrong, wrong. All this reference to Parker is no more than a conspiracy theory promoted by a zombie circle. The truth of the matter is that the quote originated with Cecil back in the AOL days, but was not archived.
Annie–have you read that book? Parker(a woman) NEVER “flatly denied that ever happend.” If you can supply an exact quote, I’d be surprised but pleased.
As for Clare Boothe Luce, SHE reportedly denied that it ever happend. Maybe that’s what confused you.
The quote is first printed in 1934 in Alexander Wolcott’s While Rome Burns. I’d be surprised if she didn’t say it.
That could be the case. But it’s pretty much been established that it never happened.
The bio is excellent, and it gives some examples of Parker’s poetry. She was a lot more talented than people realized.
I have the 'Portable Dorothy Parker" which has the introduction by Somserset Maughm, and that quote is in the review she did of…God, what was that woman’s name? The wife of a prime minster, who always managed to talk about herself. I can’t find my damned copy of the bloody thing, but I remember stray quips. The woman’s maiden name was Tennant, as quoted by Parker in her review of the book. “You ride so dashingly, Miss Tennant!”
My favorite Parkerisms (whether or not correctly attributed):
“I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.”
Said of Katharine Hepburn in a movie role, “Her emotions ran the gamut from A to B.”
Said of an American starlet who broke her leg in London, “She must’ve done it sliding down a barrister.”
I’m going to assume that this is satire, mockery of the way that people repeat things that they kinda sorta half-remember, with just enough of a cite to seem plausible but so little that it hard to check. Good job.
Of course, this is the Internet, where nobody knows if you’re a dog. It’s barely possible that you actually meant this nonsense. It’s sadly certain that some reader will believe you.
So, the ritual demolition. The woman in question was Margot Asquith, second wife of Herbert Henry Asquith, who was prime minister of Great Britain from 1908-1916 and is the great-grandfather of Helena Bonham Carter. Such is the distance between our time and hers that Herbert’s name or position is never mentioned in the review. Presumably everybody was expected to know who Margot Asquith was, especially since she had already put out a four-volume autobiography. (Herbert fell madly in love with another woman while he was PM. She had a lot of scores to settle.)
This book, however, was called Lay Sermons, a series of essays on the Big Topics published in 1927 (when Herbert was still alive, BTW). It’s not a novel, which you think would disqualify it from being the subject of the punchline, but that never seems to stop anyone. And the review is easily found. You can read it in the Collected New Yorker. You can see it reprinted word-for-word in her review collection *Constant Reader *and you can see Constant Reader reprinted word-for-word in The Portable Dorothy Parker.
Obviously these are the very first places where anybody searching would look, and they have been searched, extensively, by eye and electronically. As satire, putting the quote in the first place people would look is a nice touch.
For those who didn’t get it, after three threads on the subject, what the hell are you smoking?
Aw. Is somebody having a tantrum? Did you lose your binkie?
Both of you need to cool it. This is heading in a direction that isn’t appropriate for Cafe Society.
Nor eloquently witty enough to suit the thread’s topic.