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April 2010

Has Dottie got legs?

by R. S. Gwynn

On the poetry of Dorothy Parker.

“Hemingway, remarks are not literature,” said Miss Stein imperiously. In Dorothy Parker’s case, however, the remarks, the snappy comebacks, live on, no matter how inexpert the witnesses (Mrs. Parker included). Even if she never really followed Clare Boothe Luce’s “Age before beauty” with “Pearls before swine” or wrote of the young Katharine Hepburn “She ran the gamut of emotions from A to B,” most of us, suffering from the delayed reaction times that wake us up a day or so later with the perfect rejoinder, envy the expert parry, the swift thrust of a Parker epigram, even a faux one. That she had no Boswell is, well, just as well, for the panache with which time has crowned her off-the-cuffs makes her loom larger in our cultural memory.

In life, however, she did not loom very large, around fiv ...

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R. S. Gwynn is University Professor of English at Lamar University.


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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 28 April 2010, on page 24

Copyright © 2014 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com

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