A Gendered Collision: Sentimentalism and Modernism in Dorothy Parker's Poetry and Fiction

By Rhonda S. Pettit | Go to book overview

Preface

By coincidence, 1994—the year I began writing this book—marked a celebratory year of sorts for Dorothy Parker. The seventy-fifth anniversary of the Algonquin Round Table, a luncheon and cocktail coterie of New York writers, critics and actors that included Parker as oneof its few female members, was celebrated in New York City. The Algonquin Hotel, headquarters for the group, offered tours. Random House published its Modern Library edition of The Poetry and Short Stories of Dorothy Parker, and sponsored a breakfast panel focused on Parker at Mad 61, an uptown restaurant. Finally, Alan Rudolph's film Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle appeared in theaters across the country. As Margo Jefferson wrote in the New York Times, “Dorothy Parker always made good copy.”1 However, “good copy” often had— and still has—unfortunate consequences for Parker's literary reputation.

The activities described above did little to alter the conventional wisdom about Parker and her work. While a tour of the Algonquin might offer an historical sense of time and place that is valuable, it not surprisingly says more about the hotel than it does about Parker, who was associated with the hotel for less than ten of her seventy-four years. The Modern Library edition of Parker's work may possess, among other things, nostalgic value, but it fails to provide a complete collection of her fiction and poetry. The panel discussion led by Random House president Harold M. Evans to mark the event is even more problematic. Admirers of Parker, including opera star Beverly Sills, dance writer Joan Acocella and actress Lauren Hutton, were present and vocal. But, according to a New York Times account by Wil-

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