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Gentlemen Prefer Blondes -and- But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes: The Illuminating Diary of a Professional Lady Paperback – September 1, 1998

4.4 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Anita Loos was born in California in 1888. She began writing movie scripts and supplied film scenarios for D.W. Griffith and Douglas Fairbanks. First published in 1925, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was a best-seller in thirteen languages and was followed by its sequel, But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes. Anita Loos was the author of the novels A Mouse is Born and No Mother to Guide Her and two volumes of autobiography, A Girl Like I and Kiss Hollywood Good-by. She died in 1981.

Regina Barreca is a professor of English and feminist theory at the University of Connecticut. She is the editor of seven books, including The Penguin Book of Women's Humor, and the author of four others. She writes frequently for the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and the Hartford Courant.

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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; 3rd edition (September 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141180692
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141180694
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #102,541 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Orrin C. Judd VINE VOICE on January 31, 2001
Format: Paperback
I really think that American gentlemen are the best after all, because kissing your hand may make you feel very, very good but a diamond-and-safire bracelet lasts forever. -Lorelei Lee, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Up until now, I'd figured that the most ignominious fate that a significant 20th century writer had suffered was that T. S. Eliot will be best remembered for the fact that a book of his poems inspired the musical Cats. Here's a worse one : Anita Loos, author of one of the funniest novels ever written, may be remembered as the author whose book inspired the musical which inspired the music video of Madonna's Material Girl. This after all is a book which while it was being serialized made Harper's Bazaar into a best-selling magazine, went through 45 editions in 13 languages (including Chinese and Russian) upon publication, which Edith Wharton referred to as "the great American novel," which a nearly blind James Joyce chose as his preferred reading during the brief period he was allotted each day, and which won praise from readers as varied as Winston Churchill, William Faulkner, George Santayana, and Benito Mussolini.
Even before she wrote this story, Anita Loos had already established herself as a topflight Hollywood screenwriter, working with the likes of D. W. Griffith and Douglas Fairbanks, and she numbered H. L. Mencken among her many literary friends. In fact, the book is at least in part intended to poke fun at Mencken. Loos had previously noticed, with some amusement, the intellectually snobbish writer's contradictory weakness for ditzy blonde babes.
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It's impossible to hear this title without thinking of the stage musical with Channing or the later film version of it with Monroe. But Loos's novel is one of the funniest books of the twentieth century, and was beloved by everyone from James Joyce to Santayana. It's all told from Lorelei Lee's diary as she conquers New York, London, Paris, and (hardest of all) the Philadelphia Main Line, entirely by dint of her charm and comeliness. Lorelei is no fool, and exploits the desires of the old men who meet her to get all the jewels and orchids she can dream of, but nonetheless she remains very much an innocent--which is the greatest wellspring of the book's appeal. And her cynical friend Dorothy's sidecomments (which Lorelei frequently quotes) are absolutely hilarious.
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This is a great little book (actually, two books in one). I laughed put loud throughout it and hoped that it would never end. "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" is rightly considered a classic, its sharp and bitingly witty insight is something one never seems to see in a book today (indeed, humour in a book today seems to be rare - sometimes it seems that all new fiction books are depressing and morbid; and if you feel this way too then you should read Loos' clever and refreshing novels). This is a classuc that you will want to read over and over.
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Format: Paperback
"Kissing your hand may make you feel very good but a diamond bracelet lasts forever." So says Lorelei Lee in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes." With the emergence of Lorelei, Anita Loos invented the chick-lit genre as we know it, with witty looks at love, jewelry, and gold-digging in the sparkling 1920s.

"Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" is the diary of Lorelei Lee, a pretty young flapper originally from Little Rock. Since she has managed to get engaged to a married man, and might be hit with a scandal, Lorelei goes overseas. She cuts a gold-digging swathe through Europe, dazzling wealthy men, seeing the "Eyefull" Tower, and recording thoughts both witty and vapid.

Loos followed up her hit novel with "But Gentlemen Prefer Brunettes." The sequel is the story of Lorelei's travelling buddy Dorothy, as told by Lorelei. Dorothy has led a more colorful life -- she started off in the circus before heading to NYC. There, she became a Ziegfield Follies Girl, and then a "companion" to wealthy men.

Anita Loos's "Gentlemen" books first started when Loos encountered a starlet who had men tripping over themselves to help her with her things. Loos was as pretty, as young, and much smarter, but nobody helped her. What was different? Loos was a brunette, and the starlet was a blonde. You do the math.

Loos had a fun, deft sense of humor. She skewered flappers and/or gold-diggers, wealthy men, and the social mores of the 1920s. She also deliberately litters her books with misspellings and run-on sentences, adding to the feeling of overal ditziness. At the same time, her books are such good light fun that they can be read without taking note of the satire.

"Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes" gives a wink-nudge look at the flapper era, while giving us the origins of the present-day lite chick-lit genre. Fun, fluffy and amusing.
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A brilliant, brilliant novel! (And in my opinion far better than "Catcher in the Rye", because Lorelei is an unreliable but likable narrator who does a fine job of navigating expectations to get what she wants in a pretty hostile world, and who is at least as self-centered as Holden but more fun.)

Lorelei Lee has a very distinctive voice. Her blend of "refined" and ignorant is funny at first, but rather touching as one gets into her head. As is her approach to life: while she cites high ideals, she is utterly pragmatic when it comes to actions, to a point where one can only admire the choices made by "a girl like I".

Her BFF, Dorothy- the brunette- is both more seemingly sensible and cynical, but also makes very poor life choices, especially by Lorelei's standards. Dorothy is a welcome snarky voice, though most of the snark sails right over Lorelei's head.

This edition contains "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" and "But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes", plus a LOT of interesting back-story about the history of the books and their genesis.

It also has illustrations from an early edition, but unfortunately many of them are very muddy in print; I wish they had been cleaned up more.

These were the inspiration for the Marilyn Monroe movie, which was itself the inspiration for the Madonna "Material Girl" video- in which Madonna channels Lorelei for the dance number, and Dorothy for the context. Nicely done!

VERY highly recommended. This ought to be a taught classic.
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