Fascinating stuff from a Paris Review interview with Dorothy Parker:
PARKER: I knew a lady—a friend of mine who went through holy hell. Just say I knew a woman once. The purpose of the writer is to say what he feels and sees. To those who write fantasies—the Misses Baldwin, Ferber, Norris—I am not at home.
INTERVIEWER: That’s not showing much respect for your fellow women, at least not the writers.
PARKER: As artists they’re not, but as providers they’re oil wells; they gush. Norris said she never wrote a story unless it was fun to do. I understand Ferber whistles at her typewriter. And there was that poor sucker Flaubert rolling around on his floor for three days looking for the right word. I’m a feminist, and God knows I’m loyal to my sex, and you must remember that from my very early days, when this city was scarcely safe from buffaloes, I was in the struggle for equal rights for women. But when we paraded through the catcalls of men and when we chained ourselves to lampposts to try to get our equality—dear child, we didn’t foresee those female writers. Or Clare Boothe Luce, or Perle Mesta, or Oveta Culp Hobby.
INTERVIEWER: You have an extensive reputation as a wit. Has this interfered, do you think, with your acceptance as a serious writer?
PARKER: I don’t want to be classed as a humorist. It makes me feel guilty. I’ve never read a good tough quotable female humorist, and I never was one myself. I couldn’t do it. A “smartcracker” they called me, and that makes me sick and unhappy. There’s a hell of a distance between wisecracking and wit. Wit has truth in it; wisecracking is simply calisthenics with words. I didn’t mind so much when they were good, but for a long time anything that was called a crack was attributed to me—and then they got the shaggy dogs.
(Via TNC, who says Dorothy Parker would kill on Twitter).