Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Dorothy Parker

American Poet, Short Story Writer, Critic and Satirist

"I hate writing, I love having written."

"I had been fed, in my youth, a lot of old wives' tales about the way men would instantly forsake a beautiful woman to flock around a brilliant one. It is but fair to say that, after getting out in the world, I had never seen this happen."

"I have read but little of Madame Glyn. I did not know that things like It were going on. I have misspent my days. When I think of all those hours I flung away in reading William James and Santayana, when I might have been reading of life, throbbing, beating, perfumed life, I practically break down. Where, I ask you, have I been, that no true word of Madame Glyn's literary feats has come to me? But even those far, far better informed than I must work a bit over the opening sentence of Madame Glyn's foreword to her novel This is not, the says, drawing her emeralds warmly about her, the story of the moving picture entitled It, but a full character study of the story It, which the people in the picture read and discuss. I could go mad, in a nice way, straining to figure that out... Well it turns out that Ava and John meet, and he begins promptly to vibrate with passion... It goes on for nearly three hundred pages, with both of them vibrating away like steam launches."

"I know that an author must be brave enough to chop away clinging tentacles of good taste for the sake of a great work. But this is no great work, you see."

"I know this will come as a shock to you, Mr. Goldwyn, but in all history, which has held billions and billions of human beings, not a single one ever had a happy ending."

"I like to have a martini, two at the very most. After three I'm under the table, after four I'm under my host."

"I like best to have one book in my hand, and a stack of others on the floor beside me, so as to know the supply of poppy and mandragora will not run out before the small hours."

"I might repeat to myself, slowly and soothingly, a list of quotations beautiful from minds profound; if I can remember any of the damn things."

"I never see that prettiest thing- a cherry bough gone white with Spring- but what I think, How gay 'twould be to hang me from a flowering tree."

"I require three things in a man: he must be handsome, ruthless, and stupid."

"I was always sweet, at first. Oh, it's so easy to be sweet to people before you love them."

"I think that I shall never know why I am thus, and I am so. Around me, other girls inspire in men the rush and roar of fire, the sweet transparency of glass, the tenderness of April grass, the durability of granite; but me- I don't know how to plan it. The lads I've met in Cupid's deadlock were- shall we say?- born out of wedlock. They broke my heart, they stilled my song, and said they had to run along, explaining, so to sop my tears, first came their parents or careers. But ever does experience deny me wisdom, calm, and sense! Though she's a fool who seeks to capture the twenty-first fine, careless rapture, I must go on, till ends my rope, who from my birth was cursed with hope. A heart in half is chaste, archaic; but mine resembles a mosaic- the thing's become ridiculous! Why am I so? Why am I thus?"

"I wish, I wish I were a poisonous bacterium."

"I regret to say that during the first act of this, I fell so soundly asleep that the gentleman who brought me piled up a barricade of overcoat, hat, stick, and gloves between us to establish a separation in the eyes of the world, and went into an impersonation of A Young Man Who Has Come to the Theater Unaccompanied."

"I won't telephone him. I'll never telephone him again as long as I live. He'll rot in hell, before I'll call him up. You don't have to give me strength, God; I have it myself. If he wanted me, he could get me. He knows where I am. He knows I'm waiting here. He's so sure of me, so sure. I wonder why they hate you, as soon as they are sure of you."

"If wild my breast and sore my pride, I bask in dreams of suicide, if cool my heart and high my head I think 'How lucky are the dead."

"If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy."

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

"I'd like to have money. And I'd like to be a good writer. These two can come together, and I hope they will, but if that's too adorable, I'd rather have money."

"If I didn't care for fun and such, I'd probably amount to much. But I shall stay the way I am, because I do not give a damn."

"I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy."

"If I don't drive around the park, I'm pretty sure to make my mark. If I'm in bed each night by ten, I may get back my looks again, if I abstain from fun and such, I'll probably amount to much, but I shall stay the way I am, because I do not give a damn."

"If I had a shiny gun I could have a world of fun speeding bullets through the brains of the folks that cause me pains."

"If I should labor through daylight and dark, consecrate, valorous, serious, true, then on the world I may blazon my mark; and what if I don't, and what if I do?"

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

"I'm never going to accomplish anything; that's perfectly clear to me. I'm never going to be famous. My name will never be writ large on the roster of Those Who Do Things. I don't do anything. Not one single thing. I used to bite my nails, but I don't even do that anymore."

"I'll be the way I was when I first met him. Then maybe he'll like me again. I was always sweet, at first. Oh, it's so easy to be sweet to people before you love them."

"If you wear a short enough skirt, the party will come to you."

"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."

"If, with the literate, I am impelled to try an epigram, I never seek to take the credit; we all assume that Oscar [Wilde] said it."

"In youth, it was a way I had, to do my best to please. And change, with every passing lad to suit his theories. But now I know the things I know and do the things I do, and if you do not like me so, to hell, my love, with you."

"I'll think about something else. I'll just sit quietly. If I could sit still. If I could sit still, maybe I could read. Oh, all the books are about people who love each other, truly and sweetly. What do they want to write about that for? Don't they know it isn't true? Don't they know it's a lie, it's a God-damned lie? What do they have to tell about that for, when they know how it hurts?"

"I'm not a writer with a drinking problem; I'm a drinker with a writing problem."

"I'm of the glamorous ladies at whose beckoning history shook. But you are a man, and see only my pan, so I stay at home with a book."

"In the pathway of the sun, in the footsteps of the breeze, where the world and sky are one, he shall ride the silver seas, he shall cut the glittering wave. I shall sit at home, and rock; rise, to heed a neighbor's knock; brew my tea, and snip my thread; bleach the linen for my bed. They will call him brave."

"It costs me never a stab nor squirm to tread by chance upon a worm. Aha, my little dear, I say, your clan will pay me back one day."

"It serves me right for putting all my eggs in one bastard."

"It turns out that, at social gatherings, as a source of entertainment, conviviality, and good fun, I rank somewhere between a sprig of parsley and a single ice-skate."

"It is that word 'hunny,' my darlings, that marks the first place in The House at Pooh Corner at which Tonstant Weader fwowed up."

"I've never been a millionaire but I know I'd be just darling at it."

"It's not the tragedies that kill us; it's the messes."

"Like many a better one before me, I have gone down under the force of numbers, under the books and books and books that keep coming out and coming out and coming out, shoals of them, spates of them, flash floods of them, too blame many books, and no sign of an end."

"Lady, lady, never start conversation toward your heart; keep your pretty words serene; never murmur what you mean. Show yourself, by word and look, swift and shallow as a brook. Be as cool and quick to go as a drop of April snow; be as delicate and gay as a cherry flower in May. Lady, lady, never speak of the tears that burn your cheek- she will never win him, whose words had shown she feared to lose. Be you wise and never sad, you will get your lovely lad. Never serious be, nor true, and your wish will come to you- and if that makes you happy, kid, you'll be the first it ever did."

"It's not that she has not tried to improve her condition before acknowledging its hopelessness. (Oh, come on, let's get the hell out of this, and get into the first person.) I have sought, by study, to better my form and make myself Society's Darling. You see, I had been fed, in my youth, a lot of old wives' tales about the way men would instantly forsake a beautiful woman to flock about a brilliant one. It is but fair to say that, after getting out in the world, I had never seen this happen, but I thought that maybe I might be the girl to start the vogue. I would become brilliant. I would sparkle. I would hold whole dinner tables spellbound. I would have throngs fighting to come within hearing distance of me while the weakest, elbowed mercilessly to the outskirts, would cry What did she say? or Oh, please ask her to tell it again. That's what I would do. Oh I could just hear myself."

"London is satisfied, Paris is resigned, but New York is always hopeful. Always it believes that something good is about to come off, and it must hurry to meet it."

"Living well is the best revenge."

"Little Words when you are gone, there is nor bloom nor leaf, nor singing sea at night, nor silver birds; and I can only stare, and shape my grief in little words. I cannot conjure loveliness, to drown the bitter woe that racks my cords apart. The weary pen that sets my sorrow down feeds at my heart. There is no mercy in the shifting year, no beauty wraps me tenderly about. I turn to little words- so you, my dear, can spell them out."

"Men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses."

"Love is like quicksilver in the hand. Leave the fingers open and it stays. Clutch it and it darts away."

"Love is like mercury in hand. Keep it open and you will remain in PLAMA, make a fist and you will flow through your fingers."