Lardner Connections


Updated 18 March 2006

Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Leyner, McMillan, Newman

 

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Whether it be in person or through his writing, Lardner has touched many of us.  Here is a random sampling of the more famous he affected. 
 

 

 

 

   

F. Scott Fitzgerald
F. Scott Fitzgerald was certainly one of Lardner's most significant literary friends. The two met and became friends (drinking buddies) in Great Neck, NY, where they were neighbors. Fitzgerald urged Lardner to have his stories collected in a book worthy of serious critical attention; How to Write Short Stories is the result. I include here a couple things Ring said about Scott in print, and then a few comments of Scott's from the article he wrote for The New Republic shortly after Ring's death..
  • While neighbors: "Another prominent writer of the younger set is F. Scott Fitzgerald. Mr. Fitzgerald sprung into fame with his novel This Side of Paradise which he turned out when only three years old and wrote the entire book with one hand. Mr. Fitzgerald never shaves while at work on his novels and looks very funny along towards the last five or six chapters."

From "In Regards to Geniuses" in What of It?, originally published in Hearst's International (May 1923).

  • On Ring's visit to Europe after Scott had moved: "On the following morning we went by train to St. Raphael where who was at the station to meet us but Mr. and Mrs. F. Scott Fitzgerald. Mr. Fitzgerald is a novelist and Mrs. Fitzgerald a novelty. They left the United States last May because New Yorkers kept mistaking their Long Island home for a roadhouse."

From "The Other Side" in What of It?, originally published in Liberty (14 Feb 1925).

  • Now, from Scott: "...whatever Ring's achievement was it fell short of the achievement he was capable of, and this because of a cynical attitude toward his work. How far back did that attitude go--back to his youth in a Michigan village? Certainly back to his days with the Cubs....However deeply Ring might cut into it, his cake had the diameter of Frank Chance's diamond."
  • "A great and good American is dead. Let us not obscure him by the flowers, but walk up and look at that fine medallion, all torn by sorrows that perhaps we are not equipped to understand. Ring made no enemies, because he was kind, and to millions he gave release and delight."

Both the above are from "Ring" in THE NEW REPUBLIC 11 Oct 1933.


Click Here to go to the F. Scott Fitzgerald WEB Page,
but please come back.

 

 

 






Ernest Hemingway
Hemingway wrote some pieces for his high school newspaper under the pseudonym Ring Lardner, Jr., but that was about the last time he admitted any influence of or admiration of Lardner's writing. I excerpt here a few statements he made about Lardner in his letters. All can be found in Ernest Hemingway: Selected Letters 1917-1961, edited by Carlos Baker (Scribner's, 1981).
  • "Burton Rascoe said In Our Time showed the influences of who the hell do you think?--Ring Lardner and Sherwood Anderson!" (To Ezra Pound, Burguete, Spain, 19 July 1924).
  • "Some bright guy said In Our Time was a series of thumbnail sketches showing a great deal of talent but obviously under the influence of Ring Lardner. Yeah! That kind of stuff is fine. It doesn't bother." (To Edmund Wilson, Paris, 18 October 1924).
  • "Your friend Ring is hampered by lack of intelligence, lack of any aesthetic appreciation, terrible repressions and bitterness. Any one of those is a terrible load for any writer to carry no matter how talented. He is, of course, 100 times as intelligent as most U.S. writers." (to F. Scott Fitzgerald, Paris, 20 April 1926).
  • "Learned from Anderson but it didn't last long. Imitated Ring Lardner as a kid but didn't learn from him. Nothing to learn because he doesn't know anything. All he has is a good false ear and has been around." (To Arnold Gingrich, Key West, 3 April 1933).
  • For more on Lardner's influence on Hemingway, see Charles A. Fenton's The Apprenticeship of Ernest Hemingway: The Early Years (1954), pp. 22-26, 59-60, 62, 79. (Thanks to Dr. Howard Webb for that suggestion.)

Click Here to go to the Hemingway WEB Page,
but please come back.

 

 

   

Dorothy
Parker
Ring and Dorothy (whom he once referred to as "Spark Plug") Parker seem to have been good friends and party companions during the 1920s.  He refers to her in his letters, mostly in terms of wild nights out on the town.  She also stayed at his home for a week or so.  Ring Jr. worked with her on A Star is Born and seemed to have a soft spot for her as well. 

Some have speculated that Ring and Dottie had an affair.  Ring Jr. says in two memoirs that the idea is preposterous.  Neither of the accused are available for comment. 

Click here to go to the Dorothy Parker Society page.

 

   

Bert
Williams
From an early age, Ring was a fan of vaudeville, musical theater, and Bert Williams (of Williams & Walker and solo fame).  He admired Williams all of his life and aspired to be his collaborator, writing music for him in the 1910s. 

Evidence exists in letters of ideas being exchanged and songs of Ring's being worked on by Williams, but the only known published collaboration is "Home Sweet Home," a song written by Lardner and performed by Williams in the 1917 Follies. 

When Williams died, Ring didn't think some of his tributes got it right; in particular, he objected to his friend Heywood Broun's words "It did not seem to us that Williams was a great comedian and certainly not a great clown."  Ring wrote a rebuttal which Broun published in his column.  In it, he declared that Williams was a great comedian, clown, and musician.  He recalled the earlier days of the Williams and Walker shows, noting many great songs the two performed. 

A fine overview of Williams' career can be found on Jass.com.

 

   

Mark Leyner

 

"An author who makes me laugh . . . Nathaniel West, Ring Lardner, Terry Southern, John Lydon." In an interview (13 MAR 95) on Club Wired.

 

 

   

Terry McMillan
"What pleases me about the praise is the fact that they, they say my work is conversational, that it's accessible. And, and basically, I think I like the conversational tone. You know, Ring Lardner was one of my biggest influences, I think,. . .." From an interview with Charlie Rose (PBS 29 APR 96).

"'I take myself seriously, but not too seriously,' she rasps during a recent book tour. 'But because I'm a pop fiction writer and because it has mass market appeal, people are constantly trying to compare me to Danielle Steel and Judith Krantz. They can't figure out where to put me. I'm not imitating anyone. I do have a writing style; I liken myself more to a black female Ring Lardner.'" From "Full Exposure: A Boom in Fiction by Black Woman Writers Has Brought a Wealth of Voices Telling Tales That Defy Stereotypes," by George Lynell (LA Times 17 JUL 96).

 

 

   

Edwin Newman
"There was a great deal of emphasis on humor in newspapers in those days [1941, when he was starting]. The principal influences on me were humorist writers like H.L. Mencken, P.G. Wodehouse and especially Ring Lardner, so I had an ambition to emulate what they had done." From "Have Aliens Taken Over His Brain?" by Susan King (LA Times 13 JAN 96).

 

   
       

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