Quotations by Parker, Dorothy


If with the literate I am
Impelled to try an epigram,
I never seek to take the credit;
We all assume that Oscar said it.

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) American writer
‘A Pig’s-Eye View of Literature: Oscar Wilde,” Life (2 Jun 1927)
    (Source)

Reprinted in Sunset Gun (1928).
Added on 22-Jun-20 | Last updated 22-Jun-20
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Love is like quicksilver in the hand, Sylvie. Leave the fingers open and it stays in the palm; clutch it, and it darts away.

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) American writer
“Advice to the Little Peyton Girl,” Modern Story (Oct 1935)

 

Full text.

Added on 24-Jun-09 | Last updated 24-Jun-09
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If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) American writer
“Book Reviews,” Esquire (1 Nov 1959)
    (Source)

Review of William Strunk Jr and E. B. White, The Elements of Style, revised edition.
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I think, no matter where you be,
You’ll hold me in your memory
And keep my image, there without me,
By telling later loves about me.

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) American writer
“But Not Forgotten”
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Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea;
And love is a thing that can never go wrong;
And I am Marie of Roumania.

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) American writer
“Comment,” New York World (16 Aug 1925)
    (Source)

Reprinted in Enough Rope (1926)
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Travel, trouble, music, art,
A kiss, a frock, a rhyme —
I never said they feed my heart,
But still they pass my time.

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) American writer
“Faute de Mieux,” Enough Rope (1926)

Faute de mieux means "for lack of something better or more desirable."
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Now I know the things I know,
And do the things I do;
and if you do not like me so,
To hell, my love, with you!

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) American writer
“Indian Summer,” Enough Rope (1926)
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In youth, it was a way I had
To do my best to please,
And change, with every passing lad,
To suit his theories.

But now I know the things I know,
And do the things I do;
And if you do not like me so,
To hell, my love, with you!

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) American writer
“Indian Summer,” Enough Rope (1926)
    (Source)
Added on 4-May-20 | Last updated 4-May-20
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Four be the things I am wiser to know:
Idleness, sorrow, a friend, and a foe.

Four be the things I’d been better without:
Love, curiosity, freckles, and doubt.

Three be the things I shall never attain:
Envy, content, and sufficient champagne.

Three be the things I shall have till I die:
Laughter and hope and a sock in the eye.

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) American writer
“Inventory,” Life (11 Nov 1926)
    (Source)

Reprinted in Enough Rope (1926).
Added on 23-Mar-20 | Last updated 22-Jun-20
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If I didn’t care for fun and such,
I’d probably amount to much.
But I shall stay the way I am,
Because I do not give a damn.

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) American writer
“Observation,” New York World (16 Aug 1925)
Added on 13-Apr-20 | Last updated 13-Apr-20
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In the pathway of the sun,
    In the footsteps of the breeze,
Where the world and sky are one,
    He shall ride the silver seas,
        He shall cut the glittering wave.

I shall sit at home, and rock;
Rise, to heed a neighbor’s knock;
Brew my tea, and snip my thread;
Bleach the linen for my bed.
    They will call him brave.

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) American writer
“Penelope” (1936)
    (Source)
Added on 1-Jun-20 | Last updated 1-Jun-20
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If I should labor through daylight and dark,
Consecrate, valorous, serious, true,
Then on the world I may blazon my mark;
And what if I don’t, and what if I do?

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) American writer
“Philosophy,” Enough Rope (1926)
    (Source)
Added on 18-May-20 | Last updated 18-May-20
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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.

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) American writer
“Résumé,” New York World (16 Aug 1925)
    (Source)

Reprinted in Enough Rope (1926). Parker attempted suicide several times, by a variety of methods.
Added on 3-Sep-07 | Last updated 22-Jun-20
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Oh, let it be a night of lyric rain
And singing breezes, when my bell is tolled.
I have so loved the rain that I would hold
Last in my ears its friendly, dim refrain.

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) American writer
“Testament,” Not So Deep as a Well (1936)
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Added on 30-Mar-20 | Last updated 30-Mar-20
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It’s not the tragedies that kill us. It’s the messes.

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) American writer
“The Art of Fiction,” #13, interview, The Paris Review (Summer 1956)
    (Source)
Added on 10-Feb-11 | Last updated 16-Jun-20
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Drink and dance and laugh and lie,
Love, the reeling midnight through,
For tomorrow we shall die!
(But, alas, we never do.)

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) American writer
“The Flaw in Paganism,” Death and Taxes (1931)
    (Source)
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I might repeat to myself slowly and soothingly, a list of quotations beautiful from minds profound — if I can remember any of the damn things.

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) American writer
“The Little Hours,” Here Lies (1939)
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It costs me never a stab nor squirm
To tread by chance upon a worm.
“Aha, my little dear,” I say,
“Your clan will pay me back some day.”

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) American writer
“Thoughts for a Sunshiny Morning,” New Yorker (3 Apr 1927)
    (Source)

Reprinted in Sunset Gun (1927).
Added on 29-Jun-20 | Last updated 29-Jun-20
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This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) American writer
(Attributed)

Quoted in The Algonquin Wits (1968) ed. by Robert E. Drennan. The novel was Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
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I’d like to have money. And I’d like to be a good writer. These two can come together, and I hope they will, but if that’s too adorable, I’d rather have the money.

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) American writer
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
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If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to.

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) American writer
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
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This is on me.

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) American writer
(Attributed)

Proposed epitaph for herself. In Robert E. Drennan, ed., "Dorothy Parker," The Algonquin Wits (1968)

Added on 7-Dec-09 | Last updated 7-Dec-09
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I hate writing. I love having written.

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) American writer
(Attributed)
Added on 16-Mar-20 | Last updated 16-Mar-20
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Tell him I was too fucking busy — or vice versa.

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) American writer
(Attributed)

In Hard Times, Vol. 6 (1967), the anecdote is that a messenger pounded on her door for several minutes, having been sent by a New Yorker editor for some promised writing. She finally opened a second-floor window, called down to find out what was the matter, and provided this retort.

In Oscar Levant, The Unimportance of Being Oscar (1968), it's phrased "Too fucking busy, and vice versa."
Added on 8-Jun-20 | Last updated 8-Jun-20
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I like to have a martini,
Two at the very most.
After three I’m under the table,
After four I’m under my host.

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) American writer
(Spurious)

Variants:
  • "I'd love to have a martini, / Two at the very most. / With three I'm under the table, / With four I'm under my host."
  • "I like to have a Martini / But only two at the most, / After three I'm under the table, / After four I'm under my host."
Frequently attributed to Parker (the main quatrain quoted is in The Collected Dorothy Parker), but originally an anonymous gag in found in the University of Virginia Harlequin (1959): "I wish I could drink like a lady. / 'Two or three,' at the most. / But two, and I'm under the table -- / And three, I'm under the host."

The confusion apparently comes from Bennett Cerf, Try and Stop Me (1944), where he related an anecdote in which Parker commented about a cocktail party, more straightforwardly, "Enjoyed it? One more drink and I'd have been under the host!" See here for more discussion.
Added on 21-Jun-13 | Last updated 13-Apr-20
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Take me or leave me; or, as in the usual order of things, both.

parker-take-me-or-leave-me-wist_info-quote

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) American writer
New Yorker (4 Feb 1928)
Added on 24-Oct-16 | Last updated 24-Oct-16
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Of course I talk to myself. I like a good speaker, and I appreciate an intelligent audience.

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) American writer
The Ladies of the Corridor (1954) [with Arnaud d’Usseau]
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Brevity is the soul of lingerie.

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) American writer
Caption, Vogue (1916)

Quoted and attributed in Alexander Woollcott, While Rome Burns (1934). Modeled after Shakespeare.
Added on 27-May-16 | Last updated 27-May-16
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You can’t teach an old dogma new tricks.

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) American writer
In Robert E. Drennan, ed., “Dorothy Parker,” The Algonquin Wits (1968)
Added on 8-Oct-09 | Last updated 8-Oct-09
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Wit has truth in it; wisecracking is simply calisthenics with words.

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) American writer
Interview, Writers at Work, ed. Malcolm Cowley (1958)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
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