After Such Pleasures: The New Yorker's Soul: Urban Loneliness and Wit in Parker's Narratives - Dorothy Parker

American literature essay. Literary analysis of works and characters - Sykalo Evgen 2023

After Such Pleasures: The New Yorker's Soul: Urban Loneliness and Wit in Parker's Narratives
Dorothy Parker

Following Such Delights: The New Yorker's Soul - Urban Isolation and Humor in Dorothy Parker's Stories
The queen of Algonquin wit, Dorothy Parker, made her mark on literary history with both her tragic narratives that encapsulate the spirit of New York City in the 1920s and 1930s, and her razor-sharp bon mots. Parker creates a melancholic picture of metropolitan loneliness in her collection After Such Pleasures, where comedy and wit serve as armor against the harsh reality of living in the concrete jungle.

The Enchantment and Despondency of the City:

In Parker's stories, New York City is a two-edged blade. A life of limitless possibilities is promised by its vibrant lights and busy streets, which vibrate with potential and excitement. However, underneath the glamour is a deep sense of loneliness and alienation.

Parker depicts a magnificent gathering in "The Banquet," where attendees maneuver through a maze of social relations, their laughs strained and their discussions lifeless.

The film "Big Blonde" narrates the tale of Claire, a stunning lady whose aspirations are crushed by the unrelenting speed of the city, and who is stuck in a loveless marriage.

Parker's characters are desperate to connect with others, but they are frequently abandoned and left floating in a sea of anonymity. For them, the empty flats and transient interactions in the city serve as a stage for their loneliness.

The Armor of Wisdom:

Parker's characters use humor as a defense mechanism when they encounter this loneliness. Their sardonic remarks and cutting tongues turn into a protective mechanism that hides vulnerability and deflects harm.

In "A Telephone Call," two seemingly unremarkable people have a discussion that is loaded with hidden animosity and barely concealed jabs at each other's perceived shortcomings.

A lonely woman in "The Portable Radio" takes comfort in the voice of a stranger she hears on the radio; their lighthearted banter provides a little diversion from her lonely existence in the city.

Parker uses wit to help her characters find humor in the ridiculous, overcome the difficulties of urban living, and stay in charge of their own stories. It's not just cynicism.

Past the Biting Jokes:

Parker's stories are grim, but they're not without hope. They provide glimmers of real intimacy, little moments of affection that cut through the tough exterior of the city.

In "Arrangement in Black and White," a grieving woman finds solace in her recollections of a past romantic partner, serving as a poignant reminder of the beauty that endures despite bereavement.

The story "The Portable Radio," despite its depressing conclusion, captures the woman's growing awareness of the fleeting moments of human connection and offers a flimsy hope for more meetings.

Parker's characters are nevertheless able to be kind and compassionate despite their seclusion. Their humor-exposed vulnerabilities speak to a fundamental truth about the human condition, reminding us that connection is still craved even in the middle of an urban jungle.

The New Yorker's Soul:

More than just a compilation of tales, After Such Pleasures paints a picture of the spirit of the New Yorker—a paradoxical metropolis where hope and hopelessness coexist and laughter and sorrow flow. Parker encapsulates this metropolitan experience with her razor-sharp humor and unshakable honesty, giving voice to the loneliness that exists underneath the glittering surface of the metropolis.

Additional Analysis

Examine how literary movements like modernism and the Lost Generation affected Parker's writing.

Examine how gender functions in Parker's narratives. In what ways does she depict the lives of women in cities?

Examine and contrast Parker's portrayal of urban life with that of other authors who have tackled related subjects, including John Updike or F. Scott Fitzgerald.

In summary:

Readers still find great resonance in Dorothy Parker's timeless compilation, After Such Pleasures. Her moving stories, which are tinged with humor and melancholy beauty, provide a window into the heart of urban life, where loneliness and laughter dance a melancholy waltz. Parker serves as a reminder that despite living in a concrete jungle, people may still have hope and find comfort in the experience of being alone with one another.