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Dorothy Parker’s Guide to Life

Today marks the 119th birthday of poet, critic, and political activist Dorothy Parker. Known for her sharp wisecracks, biting criticism, and caustic social commentary, her wit was a breath of Oscar Wilde air in the 20th century. Parker rose to acclaim while at Vanity Fair, where she wrote theater criticism. It was during this time that she became one of the founding members of the Algonquin Round Table, a group of esteemed New York writers, critics, and actors — who were equally well-known for their active social lives. After moving to The New Yorker, Parker continued to write criticism as well as sharp, humorous poems. Later in life, she became a left-wing political activist and was placed on the Hollywood blacklist.

After the jump, we celebrate the abundance of wisecracks, witticisms, and pearls of wisdom that Parker bestowed on the world by compiling her thoughts on topics such as men, money, writing, style, and love.

Dorothy Parker on writing

“It’s easier to write about those you hate — just as it’s easier to criticize a bad play or a bad book.”

“If you’re going to write, don’t pretend to write down. It’s going to be the best you can do, and it’s the fact that it’s the best you can do that kills you.”

“I hate writing, I love having written.”

“All those writers who write about their childhood! Gentle God, if I wrote about mine you wouldn’t sit in the same room with me.”

“Wit has truth in it; wisecracking is simply calisthenics with words.”

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