The Portable Dorothy Parker Critical Essays

Dorothy Parker


(Masterpieces of Women's Literature)

Arthur F. Kinney, in his superb analysis of Parker’s works, points out the author’s familiarity with Horace’s Satires. Kinney believes that through her studies of Horace, Parker learned about “compression” in verse and the point of view of studying human follies. Like Horace, Parker was writing for an inner circle, and her puns, use of irony, and twists and turns, so similar to the great classic writer’s technique, confirm Kinney’s theory as essential in understanding Parker’s creative process. The poems are carefully carved, however flip and casual they may seem. Her stories are anything but lighthearted, and it is in her short stories that Parker is at her finest.

She admitted that it could take her six months to write a story. She worshipped Hemingway and tried, as he did, to bring an economy of words into these stories. Because she was known for her verbiage, this seems inconsistent with her persona, but Parker viewed her stories as her serious efforts and put her ego aside in order to reveal even her own hypocrisies.

Although she kept up a pretense that she was blissfully married to the young soldier Ed Parker, Dorothy in fact found that their brief times together were awkward and was happier when he was away. He, too, could be found avoiding their apartment on a drinking binge during the furlough time he had to visit his wife. Dorothy, an emotionally demanding woman, was often too intense for Ed, who wanted to maintain superficial conversations and drink liquor.

“The Lovely Leave” recounts the story of a couple in just such a situation. Both characters emerge as simultaneously sympathetic and...

(The entire section is 681 words.)