Sub-title if you want: excerpt from a Dorothy Parker
No doubt it will strike the reader as odd, but the twenties in which Mrs. Parker began work were considered an era of extreme and perhaps dangerous permissiveness, especially in regard to the social experiments being carried out by women.
Drinking, smoking, sniffing cocaine, bobbing one's hair, dancing the Charleston, necking, getting 'caught,' -- it was hard to imagine that things could go much further before civilization itself broke down. The young women who set the pace were called sophisticated, though few of them were; their shocking motto was 'Anything Goes' and they meant it. New York was their noisy Sodom, and Mrs. Parker's verse gave glimpses or the license to be met with there and its heavy cost in terms of one's emotions. These verses, which became something of a national rage, were thought to be strong stuff: brusque, bitter and unwomanly in their presumed cynacism.
They gave the average reader an impression of going recklessly far in asserting a woman's equal rights inside a sexual relationship, including the right of infidelity. The verses do not seem brusque, bitter and unwomanly today; moreover, the verses that at the time of their first publication appealed to readers as the real thing, full of a pain of loss splendidly borne, are the ones likeliest now to set our teeth on edge, as being tainted with a glib galantry every bit as false as the revolting cuddly high spirits of Mrs. Parker's literary mortal enemy, A.A. Milne. home