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The Collected Dorothy Parker (Penguin Modern Classics) [Paperback]

Dorothy Parker , Brendan Gill
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.99
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Book Description

31 May 2001 Penguin Modern Classics

Dorothy Parker, more than any of her contemporaries, captured the spirit of the Jazz Age in her poetry and prose, and The Collected Dorothy Parker includes an introduction by Brendan Gill in Penguin Modern Classics.

Dorothy Parker was the most talked-about woman of her day, notorious as the hard-drinking bad girl with a talent for stinging repartee and endlessly quotable one-liners. The decadent 1920s and 1930s in New York were a time of great experiment and daring for women. For the rich, life seemed a continual party, but the excesses took their emotional toll. In the bitingly witty poems and stories collected here, along with her articles and reviews, she brilliantly captures the spirit of the decadent Jazz Age in New York, exposing both the dazzle and the darkness. But beneath the sharp perceptions and acidic humour, much of her work poignantly expresses the deep vulnerability of a troubled, self-destructive woman who, in the words of philosopher Irwin Edman, was 'a Sappho who could combine a heartbreak with a wisecrack'.

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) was born in West End, New Jersey, and grew up in New York. In 1916 she sold some of her poetry to the editor of Vogue, and was subsequently given an editorial position on the magazine. She then became drama critic of Vanity Fair and the central figure of the celebrated Algonquin Round Table, whose members included George S. Kaufman and Harpo Marx. Her collections of poems included Enough Rope (1926) and Not So Deep as a Well (1936), and her collections of stories included Here Lies (1939); in addition, she collaborated on and wrote screenplays including the Oscar-winning A Star is Born (1937), and Alfred Hitchcock's Saboteur (1942).

If you enjoyed The Collected Dorothy Parker, you might like Truman Capote's The Complete Stories, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.

'She managed to express her real feelings in stanzas which snap and glitter like a Chanel handbag'

Peter Ackroyd, The Times


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Product details

  • Paperback: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (31 May 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014118258X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141182582
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 95,691 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Dorothy Parker uses her own indomitable style to observe in a dry, precise manner the intricate, and often misunderstood, relationships between the sexes and the classes. This book is inspirational, tragic, comic and far too close to home even now, up to seventy years after some of the material was first written. Parker's own sad life is reflected in each page of ascerbic social comment and I cannot recommend it enough. For anyone who has been more keen on a lover than they were upon one, read 'The Telephone' with a familiar heart - from there on in I guarantee you will be hooked. The poems are quite short, the theatre and book reviews can be scathing and the language/ terminology is somewhat dated, but none of this detracts from Mrs Parkers vast talent for accurately dissecting the human condition in all of its guises. This collection of her work will leave the reader feeling like they have found a very prickly friend, who is well worth taking the time to become familiar with.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT COLLECTION OF DOROTHY PARKER'S WORK 19 Jan 2011
By Eleni TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
"Sweet Violets

You are brief and frail and blue-
Little sisters, I am, too.
You are Heaven's masterpieces-
Little loves, the likeness ceases."

Dorothy Parker is one of my favorite authors; an author I have come to consider a 'close friend', as her words filled with heartbreak and wisecrack are as powerful and contemporary today as they were during her tempestuous lifetime. This is a fascinating collection of poems, short stories, and book and theatre reviews, which are so characteristic of her work and her worldview.

This collection includes some of her best poems. She wrote more then 300 poems for New York newspapers and magazines and she published some of these poems in three poetry collections; "Enough Rope", "Sunset Gun", and "Death and Taxes". These are the poems that are published in this book.

Her biographer, John Keats said that her wonderful short stories "are easily as good as some of O'Hara and Hemingway"; I disagree, they are much better. Of course she would never compare her work with theirs, as she never took herself seriously enough to even dare, and that is probably what makes her such a great writer. Her short stories, most of which are published in this collection, are personal and honest because she is so generous, giving so much of herself. It is clear that she was behind every heartbroken, self sarcastic character she describes, whether that is a young girl praying to God for a telephone call from her elusive lover, a desperate woman after a suicide attempt, or a war correspondent in Spain.

This collection also includes her book reviews from "The New Yorker" of which she was a founding member, and from "Esquire". Also her theatre reviews from "Vanity Fair" and from "The New Yorker".
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I wish someone had warned me that the text was blurry, probably multiply photocopied, indistinct, and uncomfortable to read. An insult to a good writer and to a discerning reader. Shame on Penguin.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favourite writers 21 Jan 2010
Format:Paperback
Dorothy Parker has been up there in my top ten writer list since I was 19. Her writing is crisp, sharp, witty, ascerbic and can pierce like an arrow, there is also a timelessness about many of her characters and plots. The girl waiting by the phone could be in 1940 or 2010 as could Big Blonde, Dusk Before Fireworks etc. Lolita is the most perfect short story I have ever read (was John Marble gay?) and Clothe the Naked actually hurts me to read. Too sad, too painful

Her background in journalism had maybe perfected her crisp economical style of writing and her turn of phrase is exquisite, I can imagine writers quaked in their boots when their tome hit the desk of a certain Mrs Parker to be reviewed. I just wish she had written more - the small paperback book I have read and re-read over many years is just not enough. I am surprised by how few people have heard of her never mind read her articles and stories. A true treat.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Dorothy Parker is better known for her caustic wit and verse than her short stories and this collection is unlikely to change things. The verse is still quite good in small doses but the stories have fared less well and have a dated feel about them.

They were written at a time when short stories were much more popular than they are today and obviously had to fit into the amount of space available in magazines like the New Yorker which Parker was associated with for a long time.

She was not a skilful enough writer to overcome this disadvantage and the stories are rather forced and have no real plot or character. One way she tried to get round this limitation was to create internal monologues presenting a character's confused thoughts. This approach may have worked in the days when a reader might come upon a story in a magazine from time to time but becomes tiring very quickly in an anthology like this.

Many of the stories are about desperate, frustrated women who have been abandoned by their husbands or lovers or rather heartless men who ditch women after using them.

This is an excellent collection if you are a Dorothy Parker fan. Otherwise, it is a good read if sampled in small doses.

It also has a highly entertaining and insightful introduction by Brendan Gill who was associated with the New Yorker for about 60 years.
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