Cal Tech students are primitive little shits

From the early-1960s, a brief but characteristically humorous letter from Dorothy Parker. At this late point in her life – having previously founded the Algonquin Round Table; penned much poetry; worked as an Oscar-nominated screenwriter; and written for numerous publications including Vanity Fair and The New Yorker – Parker was sporadically reviewing books for Esquire magazine and, it seems, teaching at Caltech. Judging by the following rant, her students clearly hadn’t impressed.

Transcript follows.

Recommended reading: Dorothy Parker: What Fresh Hell Is This?.

Image: eBay



Dear Harold,

I am horrified to think what a pig I have been about writing, but it honestly is no reflection of lack of thought or love. I have been busy teaching a class at Cal Tech. The term just ended and I am celebrating my manumission by writing to you. The students there are a grievous lot, hopeless, unattractive, and not even young. I threw my hands up the second week when one of the brighter lights defended Peyton Place as a work of substance and value. The one advantage though of having to deal with such primitive little shits is that they don’t ask stupid questions about the Algonquin. They have apparently never heard of the hotel or me.

I have been in touch with Leah Salisbury and she is very high on your new book. I would like to review it when the time comes, which better be soon. I don’t know how much longer they will put up with my inconstancy at the magazine.

Alan is looking forward to your visit. If he were here now, I know he would send you his abiding and unconditional love. He and Ross went to town to look for some lumber, very butch of them both.


(Signed, ‘Dorothy Parker’)