Samuel Foote’s Nick-Nack (1772)

Samuel Foote’s Nick-Nack (1772)

Samuel Foote’s comic play The Nabob, now obscure, is the first linkage of picnic with the euphemism “nick-nack.” He used in the sense of dining en piquenique, which suggests familiarity. The alliterative corruption is meant to be humorous for those...
Jane Bowles’ In the Summer House (1953)

Jane Bowles’ In the Summer House (1953)

People do silly things at picnics, and Jane Bowles’ play In the Summer House proves the rule. Bowles means for the play to be absurd, and she succeeds. The play begins with a lawn picnic at which characters with tenuous relationships incessantly bicker. When Mr....

Tom Stoppard’s “Wickerwork Picnic Baskets” (1972)

Tom Stoppard’s Artist Descending a Staircase (1972) includes the memorable metaphor: “Skill without imagination is craftsmanship and gives us many useful objects such as wickerwork picnic baskets. Imagination without skill gives us modern art.” A neat turn of phrase....
Becket’s Picnic Setting for Waiting for Godot (1954)

Becket’s Picnic Setting for Waiting for Godot (1954)

Samuel Beckett’s idea of being picnicky is to be separate, unhappy, and poorly fed. So in Waiting for Godot (En antendant Godot), the picnic is topsy-turvy: the setting, a bleak tree without leaves; the atmosphere, foreboding; the food, meager, and the camaraderie....