Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos

Astonished to see how few of my book-reading friends have this on their lists. Shame on you!

In the 1920s, Anita Loos, a gorgeous intelligent brunette Hollywood writer became pretty well pissed off at the fact that the men around her preferred dumb blondes. This hilarious book is the result of her venting her spleen on the matter. It can be read on various levels, certainly as a biting satire of Western values both in America and Europe. It was a huge seller at the time, one of those books that appeal to all.

In the November of 1925 Anita Loos’s novel Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, previously serialized in the Bazaar magazine, was published in a small edition and was sold out overnight. Three more printings were released before the end of the year, which also sold out. (Carey: 95) “Blondes didn’t need critical praise to become the surprise best-seller of 1925,” Gary Carey states in his definitive biography of Anita Loos: “It was one of those books that sold itself through word of mouth, and the word was good along every avenue of American life. Lorelei’s diary made a hit with those who read nothing but light fiction as well as with James Joyce, whose failing eyesight made him highly selective about what he read. Anita was told that her book was one of the few he chose from the list of current fiction. Blondes was enthusiastically endorsed by the literati. Anita received notes of appreciation from William Faulkner and Aldous Huxley. Novelist, photographer; and music critic Carl Van Vechten proclaimed the book ‘a work of art’. And George Santayana […] praised Blondes only half-jestingly as ‘a great work of philosophy”. (Carey: 98) T.E. Blom, an important scholar on the novel “sees Lorelei as an amalgam of characters from Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Mark Twain, and Henry James, and describes Blondes as a picaresque, as a Bildungsroman, and finally ‘a classic American satire’.” (qdt. in Hegeman: 526) from More than Just another dumb blonde joke?

My favourite part is her meeting with Freud – I’m about to watch the Monroe movie version, which takes large departures from the book and, I suspect cuts this wonderful scene.

Okay, you have all the reasons to read it now. No excuses!

9 thoughts on “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos

  1. From your post I would say the film differed a lot from the book though I always liked Janes’ performance. Mum had a few old books which were made into films that I thoroughly enjoyed, the best being “Auntie Mame” and “The Egg & I “. Her book “the Plague & I ” was fascinating. Also enjoyed “Ask Any Girl” . So what did you think of the movie?

    • Egads, Meredith, it is going on for 11pm here, I clean forgot I was going to watch the musical movie tonight – there was also a non-musical version too. Will try to watch it tomorrow night instead. Will report.

  2. Is that because it is old? I am perpetually accused of not knowing any words coined after 1950. Perhaps I make up for it in other ways 🙂

    • Just because I’m the only one I hear say things like that!! Just out of interest, have you heard the saying ” scuse me mrs Harding is that a chicken in your garden?” intead of just “excuse me” to a child for burping etc??? I said it the other day and the whole family looked at me like I was nuts!

  3. Okay, so I have seen the musical now – nothing at all like the book in terms of story-line, but the characters are intact, nicely played by Russell and Monroe. I’m not a big fan of Russell, but she plays the one with the sharp lines well, not to mention an impression of Marilyn which is amazingly close to the real thing. Recommend it!

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