(a.k.a The Devil's Dictionary, New Millennia Edition)

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Cynical People

Dorothy Parker

cynic, n. A disappointed optimist.

Where as Ambrose Bierce drew strength from the misery and perils of life, mainly of others, Dorothy (not "Dorthy") Parker allowed herself to indulge in personal misery while skewering writers, playwrights and high society (seriously, how could she avoid lancing the upper crust of inanity). What made Parker special was the twisted combination of a polite and personable woman with a wit designed for evisceration, a pen dipped in blood, and a tongue that worked best when unleashed.

In the early part of the 20th century, Parker wrote for such bastions of literary distinction as Vogue and Vanity Fair. Work as a word slave ended abruptly when Vanity Fair fired her for her endlessly acerbic prose (how they missed it to begin with remains a mystery). She launched a freelance career and shortly penned her first book titled Enough Rope, which showed her feisty side as well as more conventional verse.

Most compelling were her cynical associations. Parker became a founding member of the Algonquin Round Table (for those not familiar with this group, it was a motley gathering of the literary, illuminati and comics that met at the Algonquin Hotel and blistered the world with their communal communications). She traded barbs with the likes of Robert Benchley, Alexander Woollcott and Harpo Marx. Many of those cunning conversations found their way into the pages of the New Yorker, which  furthered her infamy.

Later turns in life caused her to become a Hollywood screen writer and a reporter coving the Spanish Civil War (though the two are almost indistinguishable from their common politics, casualties and general chaos).

What makes Parker charming – in a frightening fashion was her role as a viciously intelligent gal in the early 20th century. At a time when women were barely more that possessions, Parker not only embraced a clearer picture of her life, but a clearer picture of life around her .. every cynical inch of it.

Cynical Dorothy Parker Quotations

This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown aside with great force.

You can lead a whore to culture but you can't make her think.

If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to.

Take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves.

All I need is a place to lay my hat, and a few friends.

If all the girls in attendance [at the Yale prom] were laid end to end, I wouldn't be at all surprised.

Brevity is the soul of lingerie.

Look at him, a rhinestone in the rough.

Men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses.