Classics and Commercials: A Literary Chronicle of the Forties

By Edmund Wilson | Go to book overview

A TOAST AND A TEAR FOR
DOROTHY PARKER

REREADING DOROTHY PARKER-in the Viking Portable Library--has affected me, rather unexpectedly, with a distinct attack of nostalgia. Her poems do seem a little dated. At their best, they are witty light verse, but when they try to be something more serious, they tend to become a kind of dilution of A. E. Housman and Edna Millay. Her prose, however, is still alive. It seems to me as sharp and as funny as in the years when it was first coming out. If Ring Lardner outlasts our day, as I do not doubt that he will, it is possible that Dorothy Parker will, too.

But the thing that I have particularly felt is the difference between the general tone, the psychological and literary atmosphere, of the period--the twenties and the earlier thirties--when most of these pieces of Mrs. Parker's were written, and the atmosphere of the present time. It was suddenly brought home to me how much freer people were--in their emotions, in their ideas and in expressing themselves. In the twenties they could love, they could travel, they could stay up late at night as extravagantly as they pleased; they could think or say or write whatever seemed to them amusing or interesting. There was a good deal of irresponsibility, and a lot of money and energy wasted, and the artistic ac-

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