Ring Lardner (1885–1933)
From Ring Lardner: Stories & Other Writings
During the 1920s Vanity Fair published a monthly pictorial feature, “We Nominate for the Hall of Fame,” highlighting four or five current celebrities. In March 1923 Edmund Wilson and F. Scott Fitzgerald together suggested Ring Lardner for the feature; Fitzgerald wrote the rough draft for the caption, which Wilson polished and submitted. The pair nominated Lardner as America’s best humorist “because he is quite unaware of the approval he is receiving in erudite circles; because he is covered with bruises from representing the Yale football team against his Harvard-bound boys; and finally, because with a rare true ear he has set down for posterity the accents of the American language.”
Lardner, who was born 131 years ago, on March 6, 1885, had just published “The Golden Honeymoon,” the story that marked a change in his writing career from the popular, often sports-related fiction he had been writing for The Saturday Evening Post to the more “erudite” and “literary” pieces he wrote for Cosmopolitan and other magazines. This later phase of his career, which produced many of his best stories (including his most famous, “Haircut”) was nurtured in no small part by Fitzgerald himself and by Max Perkins, the editor for both writers at Scribner’s.
“The Golden Honeymoon” is this week’s selection at our Story of the Week site—where you can also find “Haircut.” Both stories amply display Lardner’s trademark humor and cynical humaneness.